Subtracting 15 Years From Your Age?

April 1, 2004

There Are At Least Two Ways of Inducing Caloric Restriction Effects 
There's a great deal of material available on the Internet, and I'm slowly working my way through some of it.
    It turns out that there are at least two ways of partially reversing the ravages of aging:  caloric restriction and metformin. Metformin is a 40-year-old drug for diabetics that induces many of the gene changes of caloric restriction. It is contraindicated for anyone with kidney, liver, cardiovascular and other problems. Side effects include the possibility of hypoglycemia and GI-tract distress. Two 500-mg. pills a day are recommended for the non-diabetic. Not that I'm suggesting for a moment that anyone rush out and buy this drug. Further investigation is certainly in order.
These May Be Subtracting Something Like 15 Years From Your Age
    In the meantime, it seems reasonable to suppose that caloric restriction can subtract something like 15 years from your current age.
This Age-Reversal Effect May Be Immanent in Dr. Walford's "Beyond the 120-Year Diet"
    With 20/20 hindsight, this seems to me to be inherent in Dr. Roy Walford's book, "Beyond the 120-Year Diet".He certainly doesn't claim in his book that caloric restriction begun later in life will subtract 15 years from your physiological age, and 15 years is a just a saddleback guess, anyway. However, he lists the following average decreases in age-related biomarkers that occurred among the eight members of the Biosphere II project six to eight months after they were forced to go on a CRON (Caloric-Restricted with Optimal Nutrition) diet.

Test or Determination Average Percent Change
Weight 14 % decrease
Systolic blood pressure 18% decrease
Diastolic blood pressure 28% decrease
Blood sugar 21% decrease
Cholesterol 36% decrease
White blood cell count 31%
Insulin 42% decrease
T3 (a thyroid hormone) 19% decrease
Renin gradual decrease
Glycosated hemoglobin gradual decrease
Triglycerides gradual decrease

    What strikes me as significant about this is that if caloric reduction merely slowed the rate of aging, these age-related biomarkers wouldn' decrease but would simply increase more slowly. The fact that they back up to numbers congruent with younger ages suggests an actual reversal of aging ranther than a mere slwoing of the aging process... a fact confirmed by Dr. Spindler's and Dr. Dr. Weindruch's gene-change assays.
    One way to estimate the rejuvenating effects of caloric restriction and of related interventions (such as alpha-lipoic acid,  acetyl-l-carnitine, and carnosine) is to compare at the values of these biomarker declines with the values mice exhibit at earlier ages. I don't have enough data to make a such a comparison, but his caloric-restricted mice that were put on caloric restriction at the ripe old age of 34 months and sacrificed at 35 months showed about 70% of the age biomarker changes that are evinced by mice that were caloric restricted from birth. In other words, these 35-month-old mice would probably have lasted for about 43-44 months before the last man... uh, mouse,,, died,  instead of the usual 37-38 months for these mice.
    My rule-of-thumb for converting mouse months into human years is a factor of 2.5, so six additional months converts to 15 additional years for humans.
    However, there's a lot more going on in the world than just calorie restriction. I think there's a good chance that we can win at least a little more than 15 years of physiological age subtraction... say, 20 years, corresponding to two more months for the mice. That would certainly buy additional time for further development.

    Here's a couple of updated disxussions of Dr. Spindler's recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and of Dr. Weindruch' previous 1999 study that laid the groundwork for Dr. Spindler's programs.


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