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16 April 2010
Washington, DC

Calorie restriction can not only make you live up to 100 years but also keep you healthy throughout life, says a new research. The findings were published in the Friday edition of Science.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (WUSM–SL), University College London (UCL), and Andrus Gerontology Centre, University of Southern California (USC) report that calorie restriction influences the same handful of molecular pathways related to ageing in all the organisms studied – from yeast to rodents to humans.

In less complex organisms, restricting calories can double or even triple lifespan. It’s not yet clear just how much longer calorie restriction might help humans live, but those who practice the strict diet may hope to survive past 100 years, according to the study.

Study co–author Luigi Fontana is less interested in calorie restriction for longer life than in its ability to promote good health throughout life.

“The focus of my research is not really to extend lifespan to 120 or 130 years. Right now, the average lifespan in Western countries is about 80, but there are too many people who are only healthy until about age 50,” said Fontana.

“We want to use the discoveries about calorie restriction and other related genetic or pharmacological interventions to close that 30–year gap between lifespan and ‘healthspan’.”

“However, by extending a healthy lifestyle, average lifespan could increase up to 100 years of age,” Fontana added.

Fontana and co–authors write about how cutting calorie intake between 10% and 50% decreases the activity of pathways involving insulin–like growth factor (IGF–1), glucose and TOR (target of rapamycin), and considerably increases lifespan in animals.

“About 30% of the animals on calorie restriction die at an advanced age without any diseases normally related to ageing (such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and cognitive problems),” Fontana said.

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