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Ever wish you could gain the life-extending benefits of dieting without actually having to reduce your food consumption?  This research on a hormone-like growth factor (thanks to madmsf for clarification) called FGF21, reported by Amara D Angelida, in Extend your life span without dieting, may be just what you are looking for. Scientist at the UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered that a hormone produced by starvation diet can extend life spans 30% in male mice, and 40% in female mice, without restrictive diets.

Restricting food intake has been shown to extend lifespan in several different kinds of animals. But in the UT study, the researchers found transgenic mice that produced more of the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) got the benefits of dieting without having to limit their food intake.

FGF21, a hormone secreted by the liver during fasting that helps the body adapt to starvation, seems to provide its health benefits by increasing insulin sensitivity and blocking the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway.  When too abundant, growth hormone can contribute to insulin resistance, cancer, and other diseases, the researchers said.

“Prolonged overproduction of the hormone FGF21 causes mice to live extraordinary long lives without requiring a decrease in food intake. It mimics the health benefits of dieting without having to diet,” said co-author Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at UT Southwestern.

Scientist have not tested any of this on humans, yet. So it still be some time before we can pick up a supply at the local pharmacy. So we may be the last generation to suffer from obsesity, old age, and hair loss. But, the upside is some of us will be able to get jobs in zoos and museum exhibits so future generations can see the kinds of indignities and diseases that ours, and previous generations, had to experience with aging.

We may need to have more discussion of the political implications of this and other recent and upcoming breakthroughs in health and aging as they come to fruition.

For example, some have already estimated that President Obama's next Supreme Court Justice nominees could be sitting on the court for 30 to 50 more years if he chooses them young enough. I believe Chief Justice Roberts was 46 when nominated so still may be in charge through 2050.

And, we might not have to watch a future Twilight episode to imagine that we may be battling Karl Rove, Gingrich and this merry band of right wing extremists for another 30 years or more.  

Now if scientists could just identify the hormones produced by exercising, couch potatoes everywhere will be able to rejoice.

8:23 PM PT: Gchaucer2 called my attention to the confusing nature of the blockquotes,  I had to cut out paragraphs to fit within fair use guidelines.

Once scientist found FGF21 was produced by starvation diets, they then produced it artificially and injected it into mice, thereby concluding that the chemical (a hormone-like growth factor) was responsible for the beneficial affect, not the starvation itself.

So, by giving mice the hormone synthetically, they predict you will be able to get the benefit without having to starve them.  Initial research confirms this hypothesis, although the current round of experiments is ongoing. .

Also, HiBob refers to a recent study,, I also saw, that contradicted earlier less controlled studies by not finding life extension with severe calorie reduction in primates.  It may that some other factor is involved in the production of FGF21.


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