ScienceBloggers discuss the latest developments in longevity research.

Calorie Restriction
In October 2006, Jonah Lehrer noted that the low-calorie link to longevity had received a spree of publicity in the popular press. Although a restricted diet has been shown to increase the lifespan of rodents and primates, Jonah points out that severe dieting has a major evolutionary drawback: your body won’t have enough energy for sex. Furthermore, given many Americans’ habits today, dieting may be culturally unrealistic: “since 40 percent of Americans are currently obese, mass starvation probably isn’t a viable public health plan,” he writes. About a year later, Mark Hoofnagle wrote about a study in PLoS suggesting that it’s not just how little you eat that makes you live longer, but how little protein you eat.


In November 2006, a Nature report found that resveratrol, a compound in red wine, can increase the lifespan of yeast, worms, flies, and mice by up to 20%. Shelley Batts explained the findings.

The results were so tantalizing, noted Abel Pharmboy, that the senior author of the paper, David Sinclair, raised $82 million in venture capital funding to continue the research.

This August, however, Jake Young reviewed the resveratrol research and brought up some lingering questions about the drug’s biological mechanism. “While we are beginning to understand the molecular biology of aging, we should remember that mice are not humans,” he wrote. “There are good reasons to be skeptical that inhibiting pro-aging pathways in humans will have the same effect that it has in lower organisms.”

Sex Differences
Last year, Afarensis explained that studying the tooth size of hoofed animals can help us understand why women live longer than men.

Originally published December 24, 2008


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