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Live longer by eating less study suggests

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Live longer by eating less, study suggests

03/23/04
Paul Recer
Associated Press


Washington - Eating less makes for a longer life for mice, so researchers are wondering if that's true of humans too.

A study shows that a low-calorie diet increased the life span of older mice by more than 40 percent, which means - for mice - that it's never too late to diet.

Many studies have shown that young mice live longer on a low- cal diet. But the new research shows that even 19-month-old mice, 60 to 65 years in human terms, can have a longer life when eating fewer calories. The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers led by Stephen Spindler of the University of California, Riverside, found that cutting calories had an immediate benefit in slowing the aging process of older mice. Eventually they lived up to six months longer than their litter mates who were fed the standard diet.

The diet change added about 42 percent to the remaining life span of the dieting mice, Spindler said.

It's still unproven that calorie restriction would extend life in humans as it does in mice, he said, but if the findings do translate to people, "this could mean a lot more years and a lot of good years."

The mice on caloric restriction live longer and they are healthier, Spindler said.

Spindler said that while older mice that go on a diet do live longer, they still don't live as long as mice that have been on restricted diets for a lifetime.

He said mice put on low-calorie diets just after birth have been known to live up to four years, almost twice as long as normal mice and months longer than the aged mice in the new study. The message, he said, is that sensible eating for a lifetime is best, but there are life span benefits even if the diet is not started until old age.

"This is a very important finding," said Dr. George Roth of the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health.

"The dogma has always been that the earlier in life you start a restricted diet, the better it works for extending life," said Roth, a researcher studying the aging process who was not involved in Spindler's research. "This finding suggests that you may get some of the same benefits starting late in life."

Spindler said the study also found that the restricted-calorie diets slowed the development and advancement of cancer. Death from tumors is very common among aged mice, he said, but the researchers found that tumor growth either started later or was slowed among mice fed limited calories.


2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

Copyright 2004 cleveland.com. All Rights Reserved


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