Author: Robert O'Brien

Caloric restriction and aging: why some people starve themselves to live longer

An interesting aspect of animal lifespan is that an animal living under a mild or moderate amount of stress may live longer than either an animal that experiences little stress or lots of stress. A classic type of stress is food deprivation. Generally speaking, reducing calorie intake in a variety of animals by ~30% extends lifespan. This has been observed in multiple animal models including rodents, worms and fruit flies. While the details vary by particular type of animal, the trend is the same: reduce food intake, extend your lifespan. This might sound like a decent tradeoff on the surface, assuming you are willing to eat ~1750 calories per day (if you’re an average man) or ~1400 calories per day (if you’re an average woman). But whether this will work for the committed few who can pass on dessert and about 1/3 of their normal daily food intake, is still an unanswered question. Two long term studies (25 years) testing this idea in monkeys have yielded substantially different results. In one study, caloric restriction resulted in a reduction of all-cause (that is, all deaths) and age related mortality (that is deaths due to diseases of aging). A separate study failed to find evidence of any benefit in restricting calorie intake. While the differences between the two studies are beyond the scope of this post, it is clear that reducing...

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Aging and Geroscience: A post-doc’s take on our mission

Aging is a fundamental biological process that we all live with. Everyone who grows to adulthood observes this slow but inexorable process firsthand. The process of aging, while universal is not uniform. Some people, though visibly aging, remain healthy and mentally sharp into their eighth, ninth, or tenth decades while others suffer dementia, cancer, or frailty of the muscles or bones. The study of aging sets out to better understand how these differences and diseases associated with aging occur in order to build the foundation for extending the period of time that a person is healthy and active. To...

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