Aging. Biology and Behavior by James L McGaugh and Sara B. Kiesler (Eds.)

By James L McGaugh and Sara B. Kiesler (Eds.)

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Calorie restrictions of 50% and 25% result in increased life-spans of almost double and about 32%, respectively. The effects of diet restriction on the general health status of rats are mixed and depend on the type of diet and degree of restriction (Ross 1961, Young 1978, 1979). Some diseases are decreased in frequency by as much as 50-90%, such as glomerulonephritis, myocardial fibrosis, peribronchial lymphocytosis, prostatitis, and endocrine hyperplasias. The effects on tumor incidence are variable.

One of the most serious attempts to explain actuarial survival data in terms of biological parameters of the individual animal has been by Sacher. He suggested that the Gompertz equation can be divided into a vulnerability and an aging rate component (Sacher 1977). The advantage of this method in efforts to study the effect of life extension methods would be in determining whether the vulnerability or the aging rate component is being affected. On investigating a number of different life extension methods, Sacher suggested that most methods affect the vulnerability component and not the aging rate.

Instead, most lifespan extension experiments have been based on educated guesses. For example, certain toxic by-products of metabolism, such as free radicals, have been proposed to cause damage leading to aging. This is certainly theoretically possible from what we know now about aging, but there is little experimental support that free radicals are sufficiently plentiful to indeed be dangerous to an organism. Nevertheless, free radical scavengers or antioxidants have been tested for possible antiaging effects (Harman 1978).

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