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A 20-year study of monkeys
has found that cutting calories by almost a third slowed their aging and fended
off death. The study suggests that a similar diet might work in humans.
Since the 1930s, researchers have conducted studies to try to understand an
intriguing finding -- why mice that eat a calorie-restricted, but healthy diet
live longer than rodents that consume a normal diet.
Now, in the largest, most highly controlled study to date, researchers at the
Wisconsin National Primate Research Center have confirmed that monkeys that eat
a calorie-restricted, well-balanced diet live longer, healthier lives than
animals on unrestricted diets.
Researcher Richard Weindruch [WINE-druck] with the Geriatric Research Education
Clinical Center at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Madison says there's about a three-fold higher risk of
developing a disease of aging in those animals fed the normal diet as opposed
to those that have been on caloric restriction since they were adults."
Weindruch says the primate study will continue to see how long the monkeys live
eating fewer calories.
So far, 37 percent of the monkeys that kept their regular diet have died of
age-related diseases, compared to only 13 percent for monkeys that ate
one-third fewer calories.
Weindruch says researchers do not know why calorie restriction increases life
span, but they think there is a beneficial shift in the way the body processes
energy in the monkeys that eat fewer calories.
Weindruch says the research shows that not only is life extended in the
calorie-restricted monkeys, but their quality of life also is improved, with a
delay in muscle loss and brain shrinkage that can lead to dementia.
The difference in the appearance of calorie-restricted monkeys and those on a
normal diet is striking. Primates that ate fewer calories look younger and
healthier than fatter, frumpier monkeys on an unrestricted diet.
Translated by Buasawan Simmala