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Medicine Science

Calorie Restriction May Not Extend Lifespan 251

Posted by timothy
from the not-even-time-for-one-more-cigarette dept.
sciencehabit writes "Slash your food intake and you can live dramatically longer — at least if you're a mouse or a nematode. But a major study designed to determine whether this regimen, known as caloric restriction, works in primates suggests that it improves monkeys' health but doesn't extend their lives. Researchers not involved with the new paper say the results are still encouraging. Although the monkeys didn't evince an increase in life span, both studies show a major improvement in 'health span,' or the amount of time before age-related diseases set in. 'I certainly wouldn't give up on calorie restriction as a health promoter' based on these findings, says molecular biologist Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge."
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Calorie Restriction May Not Extend Lifespan

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  • by DaTrueDave (992134) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:33AM (#41178151)

    ...McDonalds Corporation?

    • both studies show a major improvement in 'health span,' or the amount of time before age-related diseases set in

      More likely by LAP-BAND®

  • I'll die happy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justdiver (2478536) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:33AM (#41178155)
    I'd rather be fat and die early having eaten the things I liked, than old, skinny and never enjoyed a triple bacon burger with extra cheese.
    • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sa666u (2626427) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:40AM (#41178245)
      Provided that eating is the only thing that makes you happy. I used to think just like you but at some point your body starts giving up and your life gets miserable despite the feasts.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I used to think just like you but at some point your body starts giving up and your life gets miserable despite the feasts.

        That's so, but it's going to happen sooner or later anyway, unless you get run over by a bus or something. And at age 60 it doesn't seem like any more time has passed in my life than it seemed at 30. The older you get, the faster time goes.

        The study showed that being skinny doesn't prolong life, but it didn't show the obesity doesn't shorten it.

    • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Physician (861339) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:46AM (#41178303) Homepage
      That is not an option according to the research. You will die at the same time as the skinny guy but will acquire age related diseases sooner so the skinny guy will enjoy a larger percentage of his life outside the nursing home, hospital and doctor's office.
      • Also, the caloric restriction mentioned here in nematodes and mice wasn't "dieting" that was improving their lifespan.

        In 1934, Mary Crowell and Clive McCay of Cornell University observed that laboratory rats fed a severely reduced calorie diet while maintaining micronutrient levels resulted in life spans of up to twice as long as otherwise expected.

        It goes beyond just staying thin, you have to be just above starving. To the point where I'd rather NOT live an extra 10 years of that. Plus, the benefits are lessened if you don't start it young.

        Which is why so few scientists were trying it on themselves even before this study suggests it wouldn't work.

    • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:47AM (#41178317) Homepage Journal

      I'd rather be fat and die early having eaten the things I liked, than old, skinny and never enjoyed a triple bacon burger with extra cheese.

      Is your life about only food? If that's the only thing you enjoy, then by all means yours the philosophy to live by.

      In addition, nothing says you can't enjoy these foods - the key is moderation. Don't glut yourself.

      It seems a common misunderstanding when it comes to "limiting caloric intake" is that you can never eat anything "bad for you"; but I think it's far more important that you don't eat a) nothing *but* 'bad for you', or b) unlimited quantites of the same.

      Have a slice of pizza and a soda. Don't have half a pie and a two liter bottle of soda, and don't eat the pizza every night. Pretty simple.

      • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by crmarvin42 (652893) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:58AM (#41178443)
        I think the unstated implication that comes from comparing the two long running studies on this in Rhesus Monkeys is that it's not so much that calorie restriction v maintenance requirement extends your life, but that caloric intake above maintenance shortens it. The key is in the differences between the two "non-restricted" treatments used I the different studies.

        One used ad Libitum access to feed (eat as much as you want) and saw a benefit to restricting by 30% vs maintenance requirement. The other used maintenance v 30% restriction and saw no difference. Seems to me the two Positive Control treatments are what really should be compared (all other things being equal).

        -A Nutritionist
      • Re:I'll die happy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:00AM (#41178471) Homepage

        An alternative is for him to get off of his fat ass and burn off the junk food. However, that actually requires work and effort and as such will be the last option that any American suggest.

        It's not an easy enough solution. It doesn't shrink wrap well enough.

        Moderation helps too.

        The problem with pizza is mainly cultural. It is perceived as a binge food. Many people with dire fatness issues binge on junk and then are puzzled why they are medically obese.

      • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Informative)

        by PPalmgren (1009823) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:05AM (#41178541)

        Most of the other fun things in life do not favor the restricted calorie intake, so its kind of a moot point unless you enjoy a sedentary lifestyle. As someone whose experienced how the body feels on the level of restricted calories required to trigger the effect that's been studied, its a life of lethargy and lack of energy. I used to eat twice a day, under 1000 calories, and my bodily functions followed (don't have a bowel movement but once every couple days, don't get hungry, etc). The side effects were I could barely work out hard for 20 minutes and couldn't enjoy outdoor activities because I simply didn't have the energy, wanting to sleep upwards of 12 hours a day when feasible. Now that I eat 5 times a day, my body is fully rested on 7 hours and I can enjoy a full day of activity.

        Granted, I loved the low calorie method when I was getting all my giggles from gaming and relaxing, but now that I've had the drive to do more it just doesn't work for me. I expect this is the same for parents as well, the key factor being time. To have the energy needed to be active and function on lesser amounts of sleep, a higher metabolism lifestyle is almost a requirement.

        • by dpilot (134227)

          A while back I read of someone doing the calorie restriction thing like you, with the same energy-level results. If the calorie restriction is stopping you from doing the things you enjoy and want to do, something is wrong. At the time, it seemed to me to be, "half a life, lived twice as long."

          I'm glad you seem to have reached a happier operating point.

        • by trout007 (975317)

          Just curious if you are a man or a woman?

          I am a man and I have had enormous success with daily fasting. From when I wake up to about 6pm I consume about 100-200 calories. (usually consists of fruit, veggies or coffee and cream. Then for dinner I eat whatever the hell I want and as much as I want to feel full. I've estimated based weighing and online tables a few times and it comes out to between 1000-1500 calories.

          I have gone from 215 lbs to 165 lbs in 8 months. In addition I am able to work out more since

          • I'm a guy and I've never been overweight. Your body is having to consume your stores as evidenced by your weight loss, so you're running a negative. I'd wager that when you run out of stores, you'll start to feel the effects I mention. However, in comparison to how you felt at 215, maybe its still a much better feeling to you. I was a swimmer as a kid and very active, so I could feel a significant difference in my energy levels. Its all relative.

            • by trout007 (975317)

              It's not like I'm starving. As an engineer it's a control system problem. The net caloric intake leads to a specific equilibrium body mass which varies by individual. The rate at which your body mass changes is based on the difference between your current mass and the equilibrium mass of your net caloric intake. So my initial rate was very high and now I am approaching my equilibrium body mass asymptotically.

              • Of course. The issue here is some people are consuming less than their equilibrium mass to forcefully lower their metabolism beyond normal levels, which results in reduced energy but also results in a slowed aging process. The problem this article is pointing to is that these people, while they may look like they're 45 at 60, have caused strain on their organs in doing so and thus do not end up living longer, regardless of their adjusted age as a result of lower metabolism. At the time I was doing this, I

        • by fl!ptop (902193)

          As someone whose experienced how the body feels on the level of restricted calories required to trigger the effect that's been studied, its a life of lethargy and lack of energy. I used to eat twice a day, under 1000 calories, and my bodily functions followed (don't have a bowel movement but once every couple days, don't get hungry, etc). The side effects were I could barely work out hard for 20 minutes and couldn't enjoy outdoor activities because I simply didn't have the energy, wanting to sleep upwards o

        • by ljw1004 (764174)

          I found the exact opposite. Went on the "Boulder Outdoor Survival School" course in southern Utah - 2 weeks, 1100 calories a day, hiking 10-20miles through the desert and fashioning our own survival implements and shelters, and foraging/trapping food. (I'm 145lbs btw).

          It felt great. Have rarely felt as alive as I did then, physically and mentally.

          • 1100 calories a day at a lean 145 is perfectly reasonable. I pull 1500 at 170 with a low body fat percentage. Low calorie doesnt mean below the 2000 they like to put on packages, it means your body kicks into the hibernation-like mode, forget what its called, and your metabolism and energy drop dramatically. Its the thing the anti-aging guys love.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            fasting isn't really a new idea at all.

            thing is if you continue using more calories than you get, you'll die. there's been medical studies about this.
            the nazi kind of studies. one week or two isn't really the threshold there.

      • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:11AM (#41178611) Journal

        Eating well is no guarantee. My dad ate almost nothing but vegetables, chicken, and fish for his entire adult life, and still died of a heart attack at age 53. He didn't do it for heart disease though, he did it for MS which remained in remission for the rest of his life.(whether the diet actually had anything to do with that, who knows?) But I think the point stands. If you can avoid saturated fats for 30 years and keel over from a heart attack, what's the point of avoiding saturated fats?

        • by dpilot (134227)

          There was a guy here at work who exercised, ran, biked like a son-of-a-gun. He died one day of a heart attack, biking to work, at the age of 73. Not a bad span, but not great.

          But then again, he came from a long paternal line that died of heart attacks by 50 or so. He really did well, after all. I heard somewhere that the biggest factor in a long life is choosing the right parents. Lifestyle (diet, exercise) is second, modern medicine is fourth or a distant third, or some such.

        • by Havenwar (867124)

          Hmm, well, easy enough to answer. Let's play russian roulette! I'll play with one bullet, and you play with three.

          Not that I avoid saturated fats or live a particularly healthy life, I'm just pointing out your argument is full of holes.

      • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by avandesande (143899) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:18AM (#41178735) Journal
        Not to mention that like alcohol, smoking or pretty much anything else there are diminishing returns on enjoyment. Moderation actually improves most experiences.
    • by Magada (741361)

      You can eat anything and still maintain a low-calorie diet on a reasonable timescale.

      The simplest (not easiest, simplest) way to do this is to fast. You eat, then you don't for a while, then you eat again.

      As an experiment, let yourself grow good and hungry before your next meal (I'm not talking about the first pangs here, those disappear in an hour or so, I mean actual hunger). You'd be surprised how long that takes.

    • Re:I'll die happy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by neorush (1103917) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:51AM (#41178361) Homepage
      I really hope this is a joke, because the thing is you probably won't die early, instead you'll be propped up by whatever health care system you're under at a ridiculous cost to everyone else. I can also pretty much guarantee you won't want to eat that triple bacon burger with extra cheese after dialysis or chemotherapy because the diet you describe increases your chance of all these problems dramatically. After working with obese folks for years now I can tell you that the last 10 or so years of their lives are not only not enjoyable, they are down right miserable, and expensive as well.
      I didn't read TFA but I wonder if this study consider the quality of those calories, e.g. in America we try and diet by eating one cheeseburger instead of two, of course we could have eaten 5 apples instead, been full and satisfied, and gotten some nutrition as well.
      • Re:I'll die happy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by BStroms (1875462) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:16AM (#41178691)

        I didn't read TFA but I wonder if this study consider the quality of those calories, e.g. in America we try and diet by eating one cheeseburger instead of two, of course we could have eaten 5 apples instead, been full and satisfied, and gotten some nutrition as well.

        Who would want to eat five apples in one sitting? Even if I were hungry, I'd probably just stop at one and wait till the next meal. At least pick a more appealing fruit like an orange.

        But seriously, I dropped from 205 pounds to 170 and have kept it off for years with virtually exercise and with the only change to what I'm consuming being that I never buy any beverages with calories. Mostly stick to water with some diet pop on occasion. Other than that, I just cut back portions and eliminated snacking between meals.

        Funny thing is, I motivate myself to diet with food. I have a very strict rule that I never eat out/order in unless I'm below 170 pounds. Then I'll get whatever food I want and have one meal where I eat without restraint. After that, I have to diet off whatever I gained and repeat the process. Keeps me happy, and sure beats going vegetarian and/or spending hours a week in the gym.

        • by archen (447353)

          Who would want to eat five apples in one sitting? Even if I were hungry, I'd probably just stop at one and wait till the next meal. At least pick a more appealing fruit like an orange.

          It sounds like you've never had a good apple. I agree that the supermarket ones are disgusting (bland), but if you're lucky enough to live in a place where you can get them in season locally, they're very good. I think one of the problems America has, is that supermarket produce tastes terrible .. but it looks nice. I've been surprised when traveling abroad how much better plain food tastes. Over here we have to slather food in sauces just to make it edible.

        • by Algae_94 (2017070)
          I think it would be helpful if everyone that shares anecdotes about their life involving their weight also mention their height. You may be 4'8", which would mean you still have a lot of weight to lose. You may also be 6'6" and be rather thin now.
    • by daem0n1x (748565)
      I've seen way to many people living decades of miserable lives because of the abuse of food, alcohol and tobacco and low exercise. You won't be young forever, you know? And you won't die that soon, too.
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      Wholeheartedly agree, except for the bacon part (I am a Muslim), but I think that a weight/knee relation is understated in current anti-weight propaganda. It's all about heart disease.

      My heart is just fine with my 200 pounds, it's my knees that react strongly to the extra weight. For me it's either enjoy goat karahi or enjoy walking.

    • by leuk_he (194174)

      Hmm, the excuse of the happy smoker.

      I bet you would like to retract that statement if you find out how valuable your health is. The sad part is that you only find this out when you lost your health.

    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      'd rather be fat and die early having eaten the things I liked, than old, skinny and never enjoyed a triple bacon burger with extra cheese.

      "Never"? The study is about diet restriction, reducing the amount of food. You can still eat pretty much anything, just not so much or as frequently.

      A friend of mine was "morbidly obese" -- basically like "Fat Bastard". He had a stomach reduction and lost 2/3 of his weight. He still enjoys eating well and drinks wine, but in moderation. He was headed for a very unpleasant old age, probably would have lost his mobility by the time he was 60 but now he 's healthy and active and has a few decades of enjoyabl

    • by ethanms (319039)

      You could always exercise, die skinny & fit, still having eaten your cheeseburgers ...just sayin' is all...

    • Or in my case, eat triple bacon cheeseburgers (on occasion), eat snacks before and after eating meals, gorge at the occasional buffet, and remain skinny while enjoying anything I eat.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      I'd rather be fat and die early having eaten the things I liked, than old, skinny and never enjoyed a triple bacon burger with extra cheese.

      Governor Christie, it's an honor to have you here on Slashdot.

      And if you don't mind, you wanna pass me some a that fried scungilli? You did order a "dinner for two" for one, after all.

    • I enjoy nice things like bacon burgers too but I don't sit on my ass all the time and don't eat them for every meal. There is middle ground between being a fatso and a vegan.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Olympic atheletes consume unbelievable calories but exercise like crazy. They don't do it their whole lives, but I'd be curious to know what the outcome is for individuals who have an atheletic youth. Actually, it would probably be better to do such a study on people who are simply avid exercisers as opposed to the very top tier. It's a more common condition and less likely to have outliers like doping. Do you get better health from high calorie, high exercise or does the body wear out from processing s

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Elite athletes have decreased life spans, although I don't think it's known precisely why. It would be difficult to study regular people because you'd have to know both what kind of exercise they got and what they ate over long periods of time.

    • by tylikcat (1578365)

      Some of these studies have been done (well, somewhat - studies are hard and expensive, so most things are done "somewhat".)

      From recollection, if you look at places where people live the longest, one of the things that is typical is that they have moderate and consistent amounts of exercise throughout their lives - not crazy high amounts, which at some point get associated with an increased risk of ill effects. (That having been said, there's some interested research about people with certain kinds of spine

  • When I read about calorific restriction years ago one comment was "more study is needed to assess the impact of restricted diets on resistance to infection and recovery from disease". Historically it has been people with poverty-restricted diets that tended to die at an early age from TB, influenza, etc. Obviously there is a big difference between a poverty-restricted diet and a calorie restricted diet that is tailored to supply the necessary variety, micro-nutrients, and vitamins - but there is still a pos
    • by pepty (1976012)
      Another big difference between a poverty restricted diet and a CR diet is poverty restricted access to health care. If that infection keeps people from absorbing food through their gut (diarrhea, vomiting, etc) the CR person gets nutrients and liquids intravenously in a hospital. The PR person dies.
  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joh (27088) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:46AM (#41178299)

    This study proves that further calorie restriction doesn't extend the lifespan compared to an already healthy diet. *Both* though extend the lifespan compared to eating enough to become obese.

    I'm just saying this because there'll be enough people who will take this as a prove that over-eating is fine. It isn't.

    By the way, a diet consisting of all the fruits, vegetables and meat you can eat is totally fine. It's very hard to become obese when you avoid sugars, starch and other carbohydrates. Sadly, almost everything ready-made you can buy is full to the brim of these.

    • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Interesting)

      by crmarvin42 (652893) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:11AM (#41178617)
      Very True! Wish I had mod points.

      There are two longitudinal monkey trials on calorie restriction, and they differ in what exactly the CR diet is compared to. One is verses a diet formulated to meet, but not exceed maintenance energy requirement, but the other is versus free-choice (which allows over eating). The first (the one cited above) shows no benefit, but the other shows remarkable benefit. Seems clear to me that it's the over eating that shortens life, not restriction that elongates it, at least in Rhesus monkeys.

      Fat is more energy dense than starch, but it is also more energy intensive to absorb and transport in the body. Starch is absorbed almost energy free, but fat needs to be broken down every time it crosses a membrane and that takes energy. However, I've seen some pretty fat pigs in research trials as a result of feeding 30% fat (oil, lard, choice white grease, etc.) in the diet. So it CAN be done, but who really wants to essentially be drinking bacon grease.

      -A Nutritionist
    • The study suggested that calorie restriction reduced the onset certain dieases. This does suggest a longer life is possible as it reduces the chances of dieing from cancers, tumors and such. Eventually the body does lose the ability to regenerate itself and death is the result. If you can prevent dieing from other causes so you can live long enough to reach this point you will end up living to the maximum age you are able to.

  • by robbie73 (2650527) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:48AM (#41178321)
    Calories (noun) - Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.
  • intermittent fasting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rfischer (95276) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @09:50AM (#41178341)

    It might turn out that it's not caloric restriction that's important, but periodic fasting.

    There is research showing that even if you keep your overall food intake (and body weight) constant, but **fast on alternate days**, you can improve blood glucose and insulin levels

    Check it:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/100/10/6216.full

    • Well fasting can help heal some problems. While recovering from surgery I developed Pancreatitis and was put on a liquid diet for a few days (jello, broth, water, etc).

  • I am observant Hedonist, and I am glad that science finally stopped this assault on my religious freedoms.

  • I don't. I have to restrict them, because my knees are very sensitive to even extra pound. It's the matter of limping or not, not a lifespan.

  • This is not surprising news. The lifespan may not be increased, but the quality of life may be better. The example that comes to my mind (I use it because it's the only one I know anything about) are the monks on Mt. Athos. At most of the monasteries they eat two modest meals per day which are mostly vegetarian (they do eat fish on certain days). The monks are typically in great health and maladies such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are very rare, so their quality of life is pretty good. Never

  • by freality (324306) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @10:42AM (#41179031) Homepage Journal

    "the team found that none of the Maryland monkeys that started calorie restriction when they were young have developed cancer."

  • The problem is that people read the headline thinking, oh ok now being overweight isn't a problem. In fact that is exactly what my morning new people said on the air today! They're not saying being fat is fine now or that restricting calories will not help you lose weight. They're talking about the theory proposed based on mouse studies that restricting calories down to near starvation levels made the mice live long because it triggered some biological functions that served to allow adults to survive thr
  • Dashing the hopes of legions of skinny Slashdotters who had been keeping themselves in optimal physical condition for the arrival of the Singularity.

    I had burgers and beer last night out of sheer anguish and not because that's the kind of crap most of us here would be eating anyway.

  • by Havenwar (867124) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @11:46AM (#41179709)

    I'm stuffed! No really, I'm so full I feel like rolling off this chair. I just had half a pizza and half a bottle of coke, and I'm not entirely sure I won't finish at least one of those two when this settles down!

    And with that said, I've lost about 160lbs over the last year and a half. I eat pizza, noddles, burgers, I have ice cream, candy... I eat chips, dip, sauces... Oh man, do I ever... So how did I lose that weight?

    I stopped eating so god damn much.

    That's it. No exercise, no mysticism, no fad diets. I don't pay particular attention to what food is healthy and what isn't, I just look at how many calories it is, and I eat less of it than I expend in a day. This pizza feast? Oh man, at a guesstimate I binged a good 2000 calories tonight, that's more than I usually eat in an entire day! And that's okay, because I don't do this every day. Tomorrow I won't even feel like eating much for the first half of the day, I'll probably end up eating a pear or two for breakfast just to wake up the system, and then lunch will be something light again. All in all it's not the day that counts, but the average over time.

    So yeah, from one former fatass to all the fatasses out there... keep fooling yourself if you want, keep telling yourself that you don't want to lose weight because you'll have to stop eating tasty shit... it's not true, not even remotely. You are using it as an excuse and you know it. It just means you'll have to stop eating twice as much as you need. And no, you won't be constantly hungry if you eat less, people aren't built to eat the amounts you do, it's just your body that has gotten used to it. Once you've stopped that in it's tracks, the body quickly adjusts, and you'll once more only be hungry before meals and so on.

    There's no magic. You can keep eating whatever the fuck you want. Just a lot less of it. If you want to eat a LOT, then sure, salad is the way to go... but if you want to eat deliciously greasy... some moderation is key. And it's not harder than that. It's not even much of an effort. No need to go on a diet, no need to even decide to lose weight... just decide to eat less. That's it. Eat less. Weight will fall off, at an unbelievable rate, and you'll still be eating your pizza and chugging that coke... just not for every meal any more.

  • Restricted caloric intake only makes it *feel* like forever.

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