A 20-year study of monkeys shows that a reduced-calorie diet pays off in less disease and longer life, U.S. researchers said on Thursday, a finding that could apply to humans.
They said rhesus monkeys on a strict, reduced-calorie diet were three times less likely to die from age-related diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes over the study period than monkeys that ate as they liked.
"We have been able to show that caloric restriction can slow the aging process in a primate species," Richard Weindruch of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, whose study appears in the journal Science, said in a statement.
"We observed that caloric restriction reduced the risk of developing an age-related disease by a factor of three and increased survival," Weindruch said.
The study in primates reinforces similar findings in yeast, worms, flies and rodents, and suggests other primates -- including humans -- may benefit, too.
Since people live far longer than monkeys, it may never be possible to fully study the effects of calorie restriction in humans, but monkeys do offer a close approximation, the team said.
Most caloric restriction studies have found that a lifetime of deprivation is needed to achieve the longer-life benefits, and many research teams are working on ways to replicate the findings with drugs.
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