New gene links low-calorie diet to longevity

Researchers say they have found a key gene that helps to regulate the process by which extremely low-calorie diets can extend life spans.

The finding is an early step in the quest to understand the genetic mechanisms that lead to aging. Scientists hope that understanding these processes will yield new drugs that delay the onset of age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

“This gene is absolutely essential for the response to dietary restriction” in prolonging life span,” said Andrew Dillin, a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

The link between calorie restriction and increased longevity has intrigued scientists for decades. In the 1930’s, animals tests showed that cutting normal calorie intake by about a third slowed boosted life spans by 30% to 40%. Lately, there’s been evidence to suggest that calorie restriction might slow human aging too.

Source:  Wall Street Journal

UPDATE:  New York Times weighes in with a May 3 article:  Gene links longevity and diet, scientists says

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