Opinion

Biogerontology

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 143-148

First online:

The potential for dietary restriction to increase longevity in humans: extrapolation from monkey studies

  • Donald K. IngramAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health Email author 
  • , George S. RothAffiliated withGeroScience, Inc.
  • , Mark A. LaneAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
  • , Mary Ann OttingerAffiliated withDepartment of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland
  • , Sige ZouAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
  • , Rafael de CaboAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
  • , Julie A. MattisonAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health

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Abstract

Based on results emerging from long-term studies of dietary restriction in rhesus monkeys, we offer our views regarding whether dietary restriction can increase longevity in humans. Because lifespan data in monkeys remain inconclusive currently, we respond that “we do not for sure.” Based on the vast literature regarding the effects of healthy, low calorie diets on health and longevity in a wide range of species, including humans, and based on data emerging from monkey studies suggesting that dietary restriction improves markers of disease risk and health, we respond that “we think so.” Because it is unlikely that an experimental study will ever be designed to address this question in humans, we respond that “we think we will never know for sure. ” We suggest that debate of this question is clearly an academic exercise; thus, we would suggest that the more compelling discussion should focus on whether basic mechanisms of DR can be discovered and if such discoveries can lead to the development of effective DR mimetics. Even if proof that DR or DR mimetics can increase longevity in humans will likely never emerge, we would suggest that endpoints regarding disease risk and disease incidence as well as maintenance of function can be examined in human clinical trials, and that these will be highly relevant for evaluating the effectiveness of such treatments.

Keywords

Nutrition Aging Obesity Diabetes Cancer Heart disease Insulin Glucose Primates