April 30, 1996 in Nation/World

Monkeys Who Eat Less Live Longer Study Shows That Fewer Calories In Diet Slows Aging In Primates

Associated Press

Reducing calories by 30 percent appears to slow the rate of aging in monkeys, providing new evidence that primates, such as humans, could live longer by eating less.

A National Institutes of Health study using about 200 monkeys has shown that a well-balanced diet that includes a sharp reduction in calories caused the animals to have a lower body temperature, a slower metabolism and fewer changes in biochemical markers for aging.

“This shows that what has been demonstrated in mice also can apply in primates,” said Dr. George Roth, a scientist at the gerontology research center of the National Institute on Aging.

“We have known for 70 years that if you feed laboratory mice less food, they age slower, they liver longer and they get diseases less frequently,” he said. “We find that monkeys respond in the same way as rodents and that the same biological changes may be in play here.”

Roth is coauthor of a study to be published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Joseph Kemnitz, a researcher at the primate center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said that changing the diets of monkeys in his lab has had similar effects but that the study is not yet finished.

“The findings to date from several labs do suggest that the intervention (diet restriction) has beneficial effects on health and on reducing agerelated diseases and may ultimately extend the life span for primates,” said Kemnitz.

The nine-year study is continuing and involves 200 monkeys, with half of them on calorie-restricted diets. Roth said that the diets of each of the monkeys include all of the required nutrients but that half the monkeys received about 30 percent fewer calories than a control group.

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