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Longevity Gene Found 358

quixote9 writes "Calorie restriction while maintaining nutrient levels has long been known to dramatically increase life spans. Very different lab animals, from worms to mice, live up to 50% longer (or even more) on the restricted diets. However, so far, nobody has been able to figure out how this works. Scientists at the Salk Institute have found a specific gene in worms (there's a very similar one in people) that is directly involved in the longevity effect. That opens up the interesting possibility that doctors may someday be able to activate that gene directly and we can live long and prosper . . . without giving up chocolate."
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Longevity Gene Found

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  • Old News (Score:2, Informative)

    by hsquared ( 219832 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:35AM (#18970023)
  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:16AM (#18970259) Homepage Journal
    BBC article has a link [bbc.co.uk] to another BBC article about an example of a man who followed this diet:

    On a typical day, I will eat an oatmeal-based recipe for breakfast, which is about 455 calories and it gives me about half of my daily nutrients.

    I don't eat lunch - after this breakfast I just don't feel hungry - so that leaves me about 1,350 calories for my evening meal, which is a lot.
    This is very close to the dieting of the Muslims when they fast (obligatory fast during Ramadhan or voluntary fast during the month of Sha'ban, on Mondays and Thursdays, on 13,14 and 15th of each Islamic month or other recommended days).

    We have a breakfast (Suhur) before dawn and do not eat or drink until sunset. After sunset we have a usual meal (Iftar). The only difference to the diet described in this BBC article is that we do not drink while Mr. Cavanaugh does.
  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:38AM (#18970361) Homepage Journal
    Abstract of original article in Nature [nature.com]:

    Reduced food intake as a result of dietary restriction increases the lifespan of a wide variety of metazoans and delays the onset of multiple age-related pathologies. Dietary restriction elicits a genetically programmed response to nutrient availability that cannot be explained by a simple reduction in metabolism or slower growth of the organism. In the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the transcription factor PHA-4 has an essential role in the embryonic development of the foregut and is orthologous to genes encoding the mammalian family of Foxa transcription factors, Foxa1, Foxa2 and Foxa3. Foxa family members have important roles during development, but also act later in life to regulate glucagon production and glucose homeostasis, particularly in response to fasting. Here we describe a newly discovered, adult-specific function for PHA-4 in the regulation of diet-restriction-mediated longevity in C. elegans. The role of PHA-4 in lifespan determination is specific for dietary restriction, because it is not required for the increased longevity caused by other genetic pathways that regulate ageing.
    The paper has a supplement PDF [nature.com] which unfortunately you won't be able to see unless your institution is subscribed to Nature. The figure S2 in it is an alignment of PHA-4 protein product to 3 most similar proteins in human. Some domains called forkhead are 85% identical, but really good alignment covers only about 90 of 506 residues of PHA-4 protein product. From my experience with proteins that qualify as orthologs, this alignment does not qualify. Homologene [nih.gov] does not have a family of orthologs containing that worm product as well.

    It does not mean that FOXA family does not do something for our longer lives, it just mean that article does not prove that via sequence similarity. Since I enjoy "trolling" I would add that (once again) Nature capitalizes on the subject importance and publishes articles with overstretching conclusions.
  • by achillean ( 1031500 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:03AM (#18970523) Homepage
    The article is light on any real scientific information, so for the few people that are interested in what Pha-4 is about, checkout the following link:

    pha-4 Gene Information [wormbase.org]
  • Re:OTOH (Score:5, Informative)

    by syntaxglitch ( 889367 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:04AM (#18970527)

    What is "Mainainence level"? Maintaining social security? Or maintaining rate of growth?

    Maintaining raw population, meaning a growth rate greater than or equal to zero. Many first-world nations (notably, Japan and much of Europe) have more people dying than being born, resulting in negative population growth.

    In general, education level and availability of technology correlate negatively with birth rate, and this holds true both between countries and between socio-economic groups within countries.

  • Re:Earlier death (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:38AM (#18970825) Journal

    All sugars promote tooth decay.

    Also http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?ne wsid=65470 [medicalnewstoday.com], http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/89/6 /2963 [endojournals.org], http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/05050 3152956.htm [sciencedaily.com]

    Fructose depresses leptin and insulin levels. Leptin is normally produced when you eat, and this triggers the "ok, I'm no longer hungry" signal in your brain so you stop eating. Lowering the leptin level causes you to still feel hungry, even after you've eaten. Switching from fructose to sucrose will allow your body to regulate itself better.

    Its probably going to take some major lawsuits (and bankruptcies) to fix this problem ...

  • "The life expectancy these days is longer than it has ever been,"

    Wanna bet? Nothing has changed in the 3 years since this, except that people have continued to get fatter ...

    http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/news/testimony/child obesity03022004.htm [surgeongeneral.gov]

    For Release on Delivery
    Expected at 2:30 PM
    on Tuesday, March 2, 2004

    Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. My name is Dr. Richard Carmona, and I am the Surgeon General of the United States.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your service to our nation. I've had the honor of working with many of you, and I look forward to strengthening our partnerships to improve the health and well being of all Americans.

    Mr. Chairman, thank you for your leadership in children's health and education. As the nation's doctor I thank you for taking steps to combat a growing epidemic in our country: childhood obesity. By calling this hearing you are telling Americans that there is a problem and that we need to work together to solve it.

    I am joined by my colleague Dr. William Dietz, Director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Dietz and I will be available to answer any questions you may have.

    President Bush, Secretary Thompson, and I have worked to raise public awareness of the need for a comprehensive recommitment to public health through prevention. The science is conclusive: by taking a few simple steps in our personal lives we can greatly improve our health and our nation's health, both today and in the future.

    For example, the findings of the Department of Health and Human Services' Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial showed that people with pre-diabetes can delay and even prevent Type 2 diabetes by losing just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through moderate changes in diet and exercise. These lifestyle changes worked for people of every ethnic or racial group who participated in the study. The changes--such as walking for 30 minutes a day five days a week--are simple, and prove that small steps can bring big rewards.

    We must increase our efforts to educate and encourage Americans to take responsibility for their own health. Over the past 20 years, the rates of overweight doubled in children and tripled in adolescents. Today nearly two out of every three American adults and 15 percent of American kids are overweight or obese. That's more than 9 million children--one in every seven kids--who are at increased risk of weight-related chronic diseases. These facts are astounding, but they are just the beginning of a chain reaction of dangerous health problems--many of which were once associated only with adults.

    Today pediatricians are diagnosing an increasing number of children with Type 2 diabetes--which used to be known as adult-onset diabetes. Research indicates that one-third of all children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Tragically, people with Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. These complications are likely to appear much earlier in life for those who develop Type 2 diabetes in childhood or adolescence.

    Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

    And the economic costs of obesity are staggering--second only to the cost of tobacco use. The annual cost of obesity is now estimated at up to $117 billion in direct and indirect costs.

    The good news is that there is still time to reverse this dangerous trend in our children's lives. Today I will discuss two key factors to reduce and eliminate obesity in America: inc

  • Re:Earlier death (Score:5, Informative)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:14AM (#18971191) Journal
    Seriously, if you want to extend life, ban fructose as a sweetener. Unlike regular sugar, fructose blocks the hormones that make you "feel full"

    So people still fall for this one, eh?

    Newsflash - Plain ol' table sugar (aka "sucrose") contains nearly the same amount of fructose as that big-bad-boogeyman, High Fructose Corn syrup!

    Sucrose has a 50/50 mix of fructose and dextrose, while HFC contains from 43 to 55% fructose.

    But by all means, keep blaming American's fat asses on HFC rather than admitting that we simply eat way too much and exercise way too little...
  • by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:08AM (#18971893)
    War generally has had little effect on population. WWII only killed 3% of the population of the countries involved (and had a subsequent population explosion). Compare to the black death which took out something like 30%.
  • Re:Earlier death (Score:5, Informative)

    by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:30AM (#18973247)
    Sucrose is 50/50 fructose and glucose. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucrose [wikipedia.org]

    HFCS in foods is largely 90/10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_sy rup [wikipedia.org]

    Only in sports drinks is the glucose content of HFCS higher than that of in sucrose.

    The wikipedia article also mentions that the most common sweetener for processed foods and soft drinks is HFCS 55 (55/45), which isn't much greater in fructose content than the 50/50 of sucrose. However, they don't mention whether HFCS 90 or HFCS 55 is cheaper to process, which would make that the more prevalent variety. Regardless, it's safe to assume that HFCS foods have more fructose than if they were to have used sugar instead.

    I'm not disagreeing that obesity is a result of eating too much and exercising too little. But what we eat also contributes to our health. And consuming large amounts of HFCS through processed foods doesn't help.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost