Longevity, cancer and diet connected

Sept. 22, 2008 at 12:58 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. study found calorie intake can affect how two genes operate, possibly increasing lifespan in animals, researchers said.

Study co-author Susan Mango of the University of Utah said researchers studied the gene TOR, which regulates cell growth and plays a role in the development of cancer.

"In C. elegans, the tiny roundworm that our lab studies -- worms that share similar genetics to humans -- as well as some other animals, a loss of TOR has been shown to slow aging," Mango said in a statement.

"Our work with C. elegans reveals that TOR depends on a second gene called pha4/FoxA to control the aging process."

The study also reveals calorie restriction plays a role in how these genes work -- when there's lots of food, TOR gets active, which decreases the action of pha4/FoxA down the line, and that in turn shortens the lifespan, Mango said.

"When there's little food, there's little TOR and more pha4/FoxA and that results in a longer lifespan." In short, a low-calorie diet can affect the TOR and pha4/FoxA genes in worms, slowing the progression of aging.

The study appears in the journal Current Biology.

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