Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I blogged a while back about how caloric restriction -- eating a third fewer calories than you "should" while maintaining adequate nutrition -- extends maximum life spans in every species it's tried on. Now a biologist has found the gene responsible in mice. When food is scarce, as during caloric restriction, the gene produces a protein that turns off other genes that help store fat. The fat moves into the bloodstream and gets burned. This keeps the mice lean, youthful, and healthy into old age. Mysteriously, it also makes them less succeptible to a host of age-related illnesses such as diabetes.

Humans have the same gene.

If one could activate it without actually restricting calories, there is no reason people couldn't avoid significant aging for forty or fifty years beyond middle age. Diseases, accidents, and murder would still kill people, but you're talking about an average life expectancy of 100 or so . . . on top of the steady increase that better medicine has been providing for the last century. If one could tackle the cancer problem, we just might live to be 150.

The biologist, Leonard Guarente, believes medicine to stimulate the gene will be available in a decade. Twenty-second century, here I come! Hopefully.


  1. Re. The Longevity Gene

    That sounds great for the future, but have you heard of the effect of Alpha Lipoic Acid, for the duration? There has been speculation for a long time that, because it sops up free radicals right at the source, the mitocondria, where they do the most damage because they are the most concentrated, that it would prevent a lot of diseases related to that? Well, for the first time they have solid evidence that taking it as a pill will dramatically reduce aging diseases.

  2. It's only a matter of time before the aging thing is cracked. Now to work on getting people over the idea that because death is "natural" it is desirable. Cancer and herpes are "natural," too . . .