The potential for dietary restriction to increase longevity in humans: extrapolation from monkey studies
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.
KeywordsNutrition Aging Obesity Diabetes Cancer Heart disease Insulin Glucose Primates
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This work is supported in part by funds from the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging. We especially appreciate the valuable assistance provided in our studies by Edward Tilmont, April Hobbs, Jennifer Young, and Suzanne Pazzi as well as many past research assistants and collaborators involved in the NIA study of aging and diet restriction in rhesus monkeys, including the outstanding veterinary care of the monkeys provided by Drs.␣Doug Powell and Rick Herbert.
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