Previous studies with yeast, worms, flies, and rodents have suggested that this kind of “caloric restriction” – a reduction of about 30 percent, and very different from malnutrition – can lead to such health benefits in some mammals. But given the many parallels between rhesus monkeys and humans, this study suggests that these benefits might occur in humans as well, according to the scientists.
Calorie-restricted monkey "Canto." (Courtesy Science)
Once the monkeys were assigned, the researchers began reducing the diets of monkeys in the caloric restriction group by 10 percent every three months until they reached the desired 30 percent cutback.
At the end of the study, 37 percent of the control group had died of age-related causes while only 13 percent of the caloric-restriction group had, they found. This finding means that the control monkeys experienced a death rate from age-related conditions such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and brain atrophy three times that of the caloric restriction group.
Any monkey that died during the study underwent a complete necropsy by a board-certified pathologist, so that age-related deaths could be distinguished from other unrelated conditions, the researchers noted.
The findings are to appear in the July 10 issue of the research journal Science.
A study in the November 2007 issue of the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences reached similar conclusions about the benefits of caloric restriction by comparing Americans with some Japanese populations with traditionally spare diets.
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