Nav: Home

Eat more, die young: Why eating a diet very low in nutrients can extend lifespan

March 17, 2014

A new evolutionary theory in BioEssays claims that consuming a diet very low in nutrients can extend lifespan in laboratory animals, a finding which could hold clues to promoting healthier ageing in humans.

Scientists have known for decades that severely restricted food intake reduces the incidence of diseases of old age, such as cancer, and increases lifespan.

"This effect has been demonstrated in laboratories around the world, in species ranging from yeast to flies to mice. There is also some evidence that it occurs in primates," says lead author, Dr Margo Adler, an evolutionary biologist at UNSW Australia.

The most widely accepted theory is that this effect evolved to improve survival during times of famine. "But we think that lifespan extension from dietary restriction is more likely to be a laboratory artefact," says Dr Adler.

Lifespan extension is unlikely to occur in the wild, because dietary restriction compromises the immune system's ability to fight off disease and reduces the muscle strength necessary to flee a predator.

"Unlike in the benign conditions of the lab, most animals in the wild are killed young by parasites or predators," says Dr Adler.

"Since dietary restriction appears to extend lifespan in the lab by reducing old-age diseases, it is unlikely to have the same effect on wild animals, which generally don't live long enough to be affected by cancer and other late-life pathologies."

Dietary restriction, however, also leads to increased rates of cellular recycling and repair mechanisms in the body.

The UNSW researchers' new theory is that this effect evolved to help animals continue to reproduce when food is scarce; they require less food to survive because stored nutrients in the cells can be recycled and reused.

It is this effect that could account for the increased lifespan of laboratory animals on very low-nutrient diets, because increased cellular recycling reduces deterioration and the risk of cancer.

"This is the most intriguing aspect, from a human health stand point. Although extended lifespan may simply be a side effect of dietary restriction, a better understanding of these cellular recycling mechanisms that drive the effect may hold the promise of longer, healthier lives for humans," she says.

It may be possible in future, for example, to develop drugs that mimic this effect.
-end-
Watch the video abstract here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG2Etkr8Hek&feature=youtu.be

Wiley

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Author)

The Truth about Cancer: What You Need to Know about Cancer's History, Treatment, and Prevention
by Ty M. Bollinger (Author)

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, Second Edition: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery
by Rebecca Katz (Author), Mat Edelson (Author)

Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally
by Chris Wark (Author)

Anticancer: A New Way of Life
by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD (Author)

F*ck Cancer: A totally inappropriate self-affirming adult coloring book (Totally Inappropriate Series) (Volume 4)
by Jen Meyers (Author)

The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer
by Charles Graeber (Author)

Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer
by Thomas Seyfried (Author)

The Biology of Cancer, 2nd Edition
by Robert A. Weinberg (Author)

Cancer: Step Outside the Box
by Ty M. Bollinger (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Approaching With Kindness
We often forget to say the words "thank you." But can those two words change how you — and those around you — look at the world? This hour, TED speakers on the power of gratitude and appreciation. Guests include author AJ Jacobs, author and former baseball player Mike Robbins, Dr. Laura Trice, Professor of Management Christine Porath, and former Danish politician Özlem Cekic.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#509 Anisogamy: The Beginning of Male and Female
This week we discuss how the sperm and egg came to be, and how a difference of reproductive interest has led to sexual conflict in bed bugs. We'll be speaking with Dr. Geoff Parker, an evolutionary biologist credited with developing a theory to explain the evolution of two sexes, about anisogamy, sexual reproduction through the fusion of two different gametes: the egg and the sperm. Then we'll speak with Dr. Roberto Pereira, research scientist in urban entomology at the University of Florida, about traumatic insemination in bed bugs.