Monkeys eat less, live longer

Eat less, live longer? It seems to work for monkeys: A 20-year study found cutting calories by almost a third slowed their aging and fended off death.

WASHINGTON — Eat less, live longer? It seems to work for monkeys: A 20-year study found cutting calories by almost a third slowed their aging and fended off death.

This is not about a quick diet to shed a few pounds. Scientists have long known they could increase the lifespan of mice and more primitive creatures — worms, flies — with deep, long-term cuts in what should be normal consumption.

Now comes the first evidence that it delays the diseases of aging in primates, too — rhesus monkeys living at the Wisconsin National Primate Center. Researchers reported their study in the journal Science.

What about those other primates, humans? Nobody knows yet if people in a world better known for pigging out could stand the deprivation long enough to make a difference, much less how it would affect our more complex bodies. Still, small attempts to tell are under way.

“What we would really like is not so much that people should live longer but that people should live healthier,” said Dr. David Finkelstein of the National Institute on Aging. The Wisconsin monkeys seemed to do both.

“The fact that there’s less disease in these animals is striking,” Finkelstein said.

The tantalizing possibilities of caloric restriction date back to rodent studies in the 1930s. But it’s a hot topic today among researchers trying to understand the different processes that make our bodies break down with age, so maybe some of them could be delayed or reversed.

Captive rhesus monkeys have an average lifespan of 27 years, so spotting an effect takes a lot longer than in short-lived mice. The newest study involves 76 monkeys — 30 tracked since 1989 and 46 since 1994. They were normal-sized adults eating a normal diet for a captive monkey, a special vitamin-enriched chow plus some fruit treats.

Then researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, assigned half the monkeys to the reduced-calorie diet, cutting their daily calories by 30 per cent but ensuring what they did eat was properly nourishing.

So far, 37 per cent of the monkeys who kept their regular diet have died of age-related diseases — compared with just 13 per cent of the calorie-cut monkeys, a nearly three-fold difference, the researchers reported.

A handful of other monkeys died of unrelated conditions, such as injury, not deemed affected by nutrition.

Just Posted

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

Weaker pump prices help inflation cool to 1.7%, the lowest reading in a year

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed considerably last month to… Continue reading

Salt Lake City bids for 2nd Olympics in changed climate

SALT LAKE CITY — When Salt Lake City pursued the Winter Olympics… Continue reading

‘Here is my home:’ Refugee whose fingers froze off finds hope in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Razak Iyal still wakes up in the middle of the… Continue reading

Trudeau sees 2019 election as choice between positive Liberals, divisive Tories

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says he’s confident he’ll win re-election next fall… Continue reading

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Maple Leafs among NHL teams facing cap crunches next year

There are questions Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock won’t touch with a… Continue reading

MacMaster holiday concert billed as dementia-inclusive

TORONTO — A holiday concert by fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy… Continue reading

A journey through 2018’s top pop culture moments

And the top pop culture moments of 2018 are … Wait. WAS… Continue reading

Elon Musk unveils underground tunnel, offers rides to VIPs

LOS ANGELES — Elon Musk unveiled his underground transportation tunnel on Tuesday,… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Most Read