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Calorie restricted monkeys

I have long had interests in ways of prolonging life. One of the weirdest seemed to me to be calorie restriction (CR) – basically you starve yourself by eating up to 30 per cent fewer calories than you usually do. The standard joke of course is that even if you don’t prolong your life you will feel that way. Apparently you do not get used to the consequent hunger.

It was known that the CR theory works with mice – they can extend their life-spans by 40%. Now the claims have been verified in long-term studies of primates as well. Rhesus monkeys  have greatly reduced mortality when they are on CR and can expect 10-20% increased in lifespan.

The whole theory seems to be black-box – it seems to work but there is no sound explanation as to why.

The drug resveratrol (found in the skins of grapes and hence in red wine) mimics some of the effects of CR and experiments are proceeding as to whether it too can extend life. I’d certainly prefer to extend my life drinking much more pinot noir (often resveratrol rich) than starving myself towards a longer life.

The Calorie Restriction Society has been quick to endorse these new findings.

10 comments to Calorie restricted monkeys

  • conrad

    Somehow or other, even if it does work, I think I can resist starving myself for the next 50 years. I think I’ll stick to fruit, vegetables and exercising every day, all of which seem to work well and seem a lot more enjoyable.

  • Sir Henry Casingbroke

    The CR monkeys are apparently very cranky, Harry. If you went CR (although i just can’t see it) you’d be unbearable – your family would abandon you and nobody would want to work with you and I’d be the only friend you would have left.

  • hc

    You can’t see it eh? I have already started. Come on – you do notice the difference?

  • Uncle Milton

    I’d rather eat heartily and live to 80 than not, and live to 85.

  • derrida derider

    Ah, so if we notice Harry’s tirades against unions and Kevin Rudd get more frequent and less temperate we’ll know why.

    CR has long been believed to work, and I thought the general reason (though maybe not the detail) is well understood. All food contains natural toxins, especially but not only oxidants. Those toxins damage cell DNA, and the higher the rate of damage the quicker the accumulation of damage (as well as the higher the chances of having a damaged individual cell multiply without being recognised by the immune system as transformed – ie it becomes a cancer).

    The antioxidants you get from some foods help, but will not get rid of all oxidants. The only way to reduce your load below a certain level is not to eat at all. Of course if your intake of antioxidants is accompanied by a potent naturally occuring toxin – alcohol – then you’re not extending your lifetime at all. Though if the pinot noir is a good one it may seem like it.

  • Sir Henry Casingbroke

    That’s not you as I remember you H. Have you been benefiting from those advantages being touted on spam email?

  • conrad

    “CR has long been believed to work”
    .
    On mice and now a monkey or two. But humans already live to exceptionally long ages in comparison, so I wouldn’t be convinced until we begin to see the first self-imposed human guinea pigs.

  • fxh

    CR seems to have some logic to it. Isn’t it basically saying just don’t eat a lot of high calorie shit?

    conrad – one of the things I found out last month at a research meeting is that many, if not most or nearly all, mice (and monkey) experiments can’t afford to let the mice age very long at all.

    So that hardly any mousey experiments, even to do with ageing, eg Alzheimers and drugs, really observe the mice in a true aged situation. This is a big flaw hardly ever addressed.

    Not only are we looking at mice results, not humans, but we aren’t even looking at old mices, just human equivelent 20 to 40 year olds.

  • Calorie Restriction really helps in avoiding some diseases like diabetes and heart disease.*”.

  • research suggest that calorie restriction can also lengthen a person’s life span.~;