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Medicine Science

Reducing One Amino Acid Could Increase Lifespan 286

Posted by timothy
from the for-compulsive-food-sorters dept.
John Bryson writes "Eating less of one amino acid might lengthen your life. There have been lots of previous studies showing that many species live long on highly restricted calories, but a lot of this benefit may be possible by only restricting one amino acid. Amino acids that have shown this have been tryptophan and methionine. A recent study, published online December 2 in Nature, a highly respected journal, may help explain some of the health benefits of restricted-calorie diets."
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Reducing One Amino Acid Could Increase Lifespan

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  • by bhima (46039) * <Bhima@Pandava.gmail@com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:17AM (#30342010) Journal

    As a subscriber to Nature I find it interesting that when we're talking about amino acids Nature is a highly respected international weekly journal of science but.... when we're talking climate science it's the nexus of an evil, duplicitous, Socialist, Marxist, environmentalist cabal bent on destroying the fabric of American society.

  • by foobsr (693224) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:21AM (#30342016) Homepage Journal
    TFA: "“The idea that only calories are important is basically falling apart,” Fontana says."

    Perhaps one should consider that in complex systems there is no such thing like 'only'.

    CC.
  • Bad summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mathinker (909784) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @04:25AM (#30342032) Journal

    If anything, TFA says that you should restrict all amino acids except methionine. If you are fruit fly, that is.

    TFA also says nothing about tryptophan in particular.

    Or am I totally confused?

  • by chrb (1083577) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @05:21AM (#30342206)

    Not to say nature is disreputable on either, but there is nothing wrong with saying reliable at one thing and maybe not so much in another domain. its a common enough situation in life.

    A scientific journal is either respected or not. You can't just pick and choose the articles you like and then say "Yeah, Nature is a great journal, but it sucks in fields X, Y and Z.". If it actually does suck in certain fields but is publishing papers in those fields, then it isn't a great journal, is it?

    Of course, the real problem is people who decide that a 140-year old science journal, widely considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world, is bogus because the papers it publishes conflict with their own personal right-wing political views.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @05:50AM (#30342308) Homepage Journal

    For the same reason one buys "low fat" food that has 300% the sodium content.

    The answer? People are idiots.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:38AM (#30342444)

    Our liberal founders were obviously nothing like liberals today. They were big on individual freedom and states' rights and limited government with separation of powers, whereas liberals today are for collectivism and consolidation and centralization of power and governance. What today's liberals genuinely feel is best for America would be anathema to the country's founding radicals.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:41AM (#30342452) Homepage

    We all know how this goes. If it feels good, we do it. If it feels bad, we don't do it or we avoid whatever causes it. Salt? Good... what does it matter that too much causes health problems? Sugar? Good... what does it matter that...? You get the idea.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:55AM (#30342490)

    Oooh, so naive.

    I don't know about you, but just about every old person I've known has reached a point somewhere or other where they have said "I'm ready to go, I'm tired, I've had enough".

    Now I'm not advocating euthenasia or anything so extreme, but with age comes degeneration, both physical and mental, and for a lot of people, they are prisoners in their own bodeis, wracked with pain and only their daily cocktail of pills keep them functioning even to a limited degree.

    But hell yes, Mr 23-Year-Old-I-Know-It-All thinks we should all "live forever". Wait till you've experience an elderly releative with Alzheimers who gets confused and frustrated because they can't remember what they were doing 5 minutes ago ... or takes an hour to get up because every joint is locked in pain.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by conureman (748753) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:23AM (#30342752)

    When I read that last paragraph, it seemed that they were saying that, rather than try to find the correct sort of diet, they were going to direct the research toward a drug therapy. Something a little easier to monetize, perhaps?

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:33AM (#30342800) Homepage Journal

    they might be able to design drugs or other therapies that could give the benefits of caloric restriction without cutting calories.

    I want you to think about how expensive a drug to extend life would end up being. You think world and economic leaders want to see the lifespan of all humans suddenly extended? Regardless of the research and input costs involved in developing a longevity drug, I believe it would probably end up only available to, let's say, a certain "class" of people. I mean, we wouldn't want "those people" to have longer lives, which means they become more numerous, am I right?

    Even a sudden jump of 10 years to human lifespan would cause some social disruption. 20 years or more and the ground starts to shift under our social institutions.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justin12345 (846440) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:34AM (#30342806)
    Taking a drug is a little easier to do then changing your lifestyle. If these guys can come up with a pill that makes people stay "young" and live 120 years, why shouldn't they get rich?
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:44AM (#30342840)

    Not quite. JAMA is highly respected journal, but if it carried an article an article on the gusset plate failure that caused the bridge collapse in Illinois I would give it as much weight and authority as an internet posting. It's not quite so simple to say if it's respected that it can do no wrong and all articles are good, you could say it's respected in the field of medicine and therefore it's medical articles have authority. The same applies to Nature, Nature has published articles outside their normal area in the past and will do so in the future, those articles don't have the same weight as the lead trade publication in the field.

    It's a big mistake to apply respect from one field to respect in another. The WTC conspiracists like to point to articles by supposed fire investigators on the impossibility that the collapse of the towers was from the plane crashes while ignoring the civil engineering trade publication article by real experts that documented, modeled and explained the collapse so that new buildings can be designed (and older buildings retrofitted) to avoid similar failure mechanisms where possible. Even if a publication or person is respected in one field, it's a terrible mistake to say that respect carries to other fields. A Fire investigator might be a great source for the cause of natural or even criminal fires, but that expertise doesn't carry to the investigation of high rise building collapse due to planes crashing into them, in fact it doesn't even carry to plane crashes, fires from plane crashes, or the forensic study of structural collapse.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by conureman (748753) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:49AM (#30342864)

    Ol' Dad was 92 when the cancer got him, and I still feel the humiliation of that last time we went hiking, when he left me behind, dizzy and panting, on the climb back to the car. He was a moderate with his eating, (coffee, bacon, and eggs every morning) and refused medication up to his last days. I don't know how much is genetic, but the Kentucky Mountaineer lifestyle, minus tobacco, seems to have been beneficial.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:15AM (#30342978) Journal

    Neither of the two, actually.
    Nature is a magazine, edited by humans, who have their own collection of baggage and biases. In general, these don't interfere with a generally good job of presenting relatively objective information on science.
    As far as anthropogenic global warming is considered, they're as likely as anyone to fall for the popular hysteria, particularly when it's driven by their own peers.

    Now, you might dismiss this was "ah, he's a denier, he's just parroting his viewpoint" and in a sense I am - a believe global warming is probably a systemic change maybe/maybe not tipped by human activity, and that in any case it's extremely unlikely that it's driven by CO2, or limitable in any meaningful way without genocidal levels of population reduction. There, that's my bias, all clear and present.

    But I'd look directly at Nature and ask when they've made any such clear statement? Clearly, they have a non-challenging editorial stance when approaching the laughable 'science facts' in an Inconvenient Truth (not a whisper from Nature as far as I can recall). Nature IS a respected science journal, that would be a perfect place for the fallacies of the AGW hypothesis to be dissected and the valid conclusions reinforced. But no, instead they seem to prefer the role of mandarins, defending an established dogma without really every looking at it critically or questioning it honestly.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:25AM (#30343010)

    It would cause a lot less social disruption if we didn't have programs like social security that benefit the elderly at the expense of the young. If those extra years of life were spent working, then it wouldn't be a social disruption at all. It would be a societal benefit.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:35AM (#30343060)
    "I'm ready to go, I'm tired, I've had enough"

    Hah, that's fucking stupid (no offense). You are talking about people that don't have a choice in the matter, you are talking about acceptance. You are talking about a brave face in front of family. You are talking about a lifetime of preparing for this eventuality.

    If there were a pill that extended their life 10years and increased the quality of life. They'd be fucking horrified of not having that pill. Proof? If they really wanted to die they wouldn't be such pussies about it (srsly, old people are not pussies), and they'd end it themselves. Old people have tons of drugs they could do themselves in with in their sleep.

    You are assuming a 95yrs old extensions. That doesn't have to be the case, might be that 35yrs lasts 5yrs more. I understand that it is easier to deal with death by saying it was his time. Or that he lived a full life. But people in the 1500s said 'he lived a full life' to people dying in their 20s (in the bronze age, a mere 15 yrs old). So our definition of a full life is pretty damn flexible.

    What you are experiencing isn't rational, it is a rationalization, a way of handling with death. Don't use it to make decisions for the future please.
  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChrisMaple (607946) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:59AM (#30343520)

    A substance that would extend life by ten years for everyone would be enormously popular. Politicians that attempted to prevent its general availability would find themselves out of office, or find their lifespans shortened.

    Most substances that have been found to enhance health and/or extend the life of people not suffering some severe disease are natural compounds or close analogs. When the formula or source is known, the same sorts of people that now make illegal drugs would be able to make the life extending compound(s). So if the compound is politically suppressed or made too expensive by a monopoly, the black market will step in and make it widely available.

    Even now, countries outside of the country that develops a drug use the threat of manufacturing it themselves to force down the price. There's no reason this pratice won't continue

    A widespread increase of lifespan by 20 years means people can be productive much longer. While greater widespread wealth can possibly be seen as disruptive, it's hardly something to complain about. A greater portion of old people will also cause a greater accumulation of wisdom (good), a balance toward political conservatism (mixed), and more old people trying to steal from the young by political processes (bad). Most of the "social institution" problems are government related, and it's a sure bet that politicians and "social scientists" are going to see and make more trouble than there is trouble inherent to increased lifespans.

    Furthermore, "a sudden jump of 10 years to human lifespan" is absolutely impossible. Even if nobody dies, it takes ten years for lifespan to increase by ten years.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:08AM (#30343570) Homepage

    Nor is tryptophan's involvement a myth

    The myth is not that tryptophan is involved. The myth is that tryptophan is the cause, and that Turkey causes sleepiness because of it. The fact that there is a small grain of truth in the myth does not make it any less of a myth. The common everyday belief is incorrect.

  • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:31AM (#30343704)
    The American Revolution was caused by increasing taxes and an enlarging, abusive government. These are precisely the things that modern "liberals" promote.
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:54AM (#30343864) Homepage

    By the way, there is one pill these days that can help a lot with life-extension for most US Americans. Vitamin D3 gelcaps 5000 IU, with this treatment protocol including blood testing:
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/treatment.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]

    Human lifespan in hunter-gather times past infant mortality might have been into the 60s or older.

    The following is from something I wrote elsewhere:
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/reading-between-the-lines.html [pdfernhout.net]

    Humanity used to live in relative abundance with a few people with limited wants living on a big planet.
    "The Original Affluent Society" by Marshall Sahlins
    http://www.primitivism.com/original-affluent.htm [primitivism.com]
    "Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times."

    Let us call this time "pre-scarcity". Because of the very success of hunter-gatherers, their populations grew, and they got harder to feed. That was the beginning of scarcity. In desperation, people turned to agriculture. But it had problems. Humanity had to suffer the resulting worse nutrition from less diversity of sources. Human skeletons actually were shorter from the advent of agriculture until only reaching hunter-gatherer stature about this century.
    http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6812.html [princeton.edu]
    "For instance, the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago has commonly been seen as a major advancement in the course of human evolution. However, as Larsen provocatively shows, this change may not have been so positive. Compared to their hunter-gatherer ancestors, many early farmers suffered more disease, had to work harder, and endured a poorer quality of life due to poorer diets and more marginal living conditions. Moreover, the past 10,000 years have seen dramatic changes in the human physiognomy as a result of alterations in our diet and lifestyle. Some modern health problems, including obesity and chronic disease, may also have their roots in these earlier changes."

    Populations grew even further and militaristic bureaucracies arose like hurricanes on a warming ocean.

    As Marshall Sahlins suggests, then comes along "Modern Times":
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Times_(film) [wikipedia.org]
    "Modern Times is a 1936 comedy film by Charlie Chaplin that has his famous Little Tramp character struggling to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal conditions many people faced during the Great Depression, conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization."

    Let's call this time "scarcity" times. Those are what our recent ancestors lived through, and to an extent we are still living in now. All the things you have read about how certain things have gotten better from the 1800s and early industrialization are probably true.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens [wikipedia.org]
    But, they miss the big picture of the phase change transition from pre-scarcity hunter-gatherers (like the Hmong or Iroquois in older times) to

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @12:59PM (#30344342)

    "But people in the 1500s said 'he lived a full life' to people dying in their 20s (in the bronze age, a mere 15 yrs old)."

    Where's the evidence of this? I know that in Iron Age Greece males in their teens and even early twenties would be called ephebes -- not quite fully grown men. Plato suggested in the Republic that only people over 50 years old should rule, and that women should breed from 20-40 and men from 28-55, because these are their "prime" reproductive years. Was he expecting almost no one to breed? He himself lived to 84 years old, and there was nothing particularly spectacular about it. I doubt the Bronze age would be much different.

    Perhaps you are confusing average life expectancy with what is regarded as a "full" life span?

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tresho (1000127) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @02:43PM (#30345214)
    It's not me who disapproves, it's nature. -- Nature disapproves of each and everyone of us eventually.
  • The reason human populations exploded after farming was invented is because farming provides a LOT more food. Farming is a much more stable food source than hunting and gathering. A couple of bad winters would wipe out h/g's or force them to move and fight. H/g's could meet their dietary needs easily when they lived in lush area's with very low population densities.

    Spending less time hunting, some days, than I spend in the office does not tempt me to live the stone age lifestyle. The high population densities that farming supports allowed villages, cities, specialization, division of labour, accounting, reading, math, and eventually science to spring forth. I have it better than some kings.

    You can always find a "yardstick" to support the notion that some distant epoch was "the best" - but those yardsticks are usually limited, biased, and unrealistic.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @03:41PM (#30345674)

    Apparently you already have something similar in the sense that it's illegal for the US government to use its buying power to secure lower drug prices - as this would 'disadvantage' the drug companies. This is in direct opposition to the stated goal of healthcare.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eiMichael (1526385) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @05:20PM (#30346450)

    That's valid only if you think that jobs is a zero-sum game... or that jobs is a limited resource. I don't subscribe to that view.

    They are most definitely a limited resource. There are a finite amount of jobs, typically based on the amount of money an employer has. Creating a new job requires economic growth, which requires banks to loan more money and I don't believe they are at the moment.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bakes (87194) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:24PM (#30347002) Journal

    Currently, drug companies only fund research that is guaranteed to develop drugs that can be patented, ignoring completely commonly available substances that could be beneficial.

    They don't ignore the commonly available alternatives - as you already stated, they discredit, undermine or suppress the cheap alternatives.

    The information is available on the internet, the hard part is finding genuine information amongst all the crap.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:52PM (#30348262)
    Patents expire.
  • by arminw (717974) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:44AM (#30366792)

    ...It would be a fundamental transformation, like a caterpillar into a butterfly....

    which could well be a physical demonstration of a spiritual truth as found in God's Word the Bible. There are many mysteries found in the Bible and the makeup of the man himself is a mystery. If we were living in a computer simulation, such as the Matrix, the question arises as to who made the computer and wrote the program therein. Since we are talking about computers, you do understand that the "soul" of a computer is its software. My Macintosh computer hardware can run several operating systems, the "personalities" of the computer if you will. Even the minutest and most careful examination of the hardware itself will tell you nothing about the soul of the computer, its software or soul. Neither the soul of man nor the software in the computer are subject to some of the laws of physics that matter must obey.

    Similarly, a human being, according to the Bible, lives in a body of flesh and blood, the hardware, but the soul or spirit is the essence of a human being. The biblical definition of death is quite different from humanistic materialistic thought. Throughout the Bible, especially in the teaching of Jesus, death is spoken of as a separation. According to the Bible, there are two deaths or separations. The first death occurs when the soul or spirit is separated from the body. The second death happens when that spirit is separated from God, whom the Bible teaches is Spirit. Nobody will argue that all humans are subject to physical death.

    The Bible in general and Jesus in particular gives us much insight. Jesus asked many searching questions of which one was:

    Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

    Jesus claimed to be God come as a man, Emmanuel, God with us. God, as it were, put on the human body, an earth suit, which is subject to death. He proved his claim to deity by rising from the dead. Other than Jesus, religious leaders and gurus have come and gone throughout the ages and they're all still very much dead. Because he is alive, he can give you or anybody else life. The only condition we have to meet is to simply believe and trust him.

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