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Caloric Restriction Could Extend Life By 18 Years

Update Date: Jan 20, 2017 08:00 AM EST

Thinking of grabbing another bite of that cake? Think again. A new study shows that restricting calorie intake may extend life by 18 years if findings on monkeys prove true on people.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists has been observing a group of rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

They set out to find the link between caloric restriction and longevity. Half of the monkeys were randomly selected to eat as much as they desired for the rest of their lives while the rest were stuck on nutritious and heavily restricted diets which consist of 30 percent fewer calories.

Increased Lifespan For Monkeys On Caloric Restriction

Over the years, the number of monkeys decreased, with the team noting how each one has died.

They found that adult monkeys who received 30 percent fewer calories or food tended to live up to two years longer for males and about six years longer in females. If applied in human years, it could extend the lives of people for up to 18 years.

The team also discovered that the control monkeys, which ate whatever they liked over the years, had roughly a three times greater risk of age-related death and disease than those who were on caloric restriction.

Of the 38 monkeys on each diet, 28 of the control monkeys had died from age-related causes compared to just 10 in the restricted group. The age-related diseases included cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sarcopenia, bone loss and brain atrophy.

"It's a research tool, not a lifestyle recommendation," Rozalyn Anderson, co-author of the study, said as reported by the Verge.

"We are not studying it so people can go out and do it, but to delve into the underlying causes of age-related disease susceptibility," she added.

Side Effects

According to the New Scientist, the study showed that monkeys on a restricted diet lived longer than their counterparts. However, there are related side effects of caloric restrictions in humans.

"Is it worth it?" Brian Delaney, president of the Calorie Restriction, said.

"My choice is to do it. But I'm so used to the diet that it really isn't very difficult for me anymore," he added.

Delaney has been on a restricted diet for 24 years. He said that until someone is used to it, the diet involves planning every meal properly and with precision. Some side effects include cold intolerance and reduced libido.

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