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Keeping Cool May Be the Key To Longevity 224

merryprankster writes "New Scientist reports that Scripps Research Institute scientists have found that lowering the body temperature of mice by just 0.5C extends their lifespan by around 15%. Until now the only proven way of increasing longevity has been calorie restriction — but as this also causes a lowering of body temperature the researchers speculate that this cooling may be the underlying mechanism retarding aging. In this study mice with a defect in their lateral hypothalamus, which has the side effect of cooling body temperature, not only lived longer but also ate normal amounts."
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Keeping Cool May Be the Key To Longevity

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  • Sweet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Aadain2001 ( 684036 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @04:16PM (#16707981) Journal
    Alaska, here I come!
    • Confusing title (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gregory Cox ( 997625 )
      Despite the title, and all the comments talking about living in a low-temperature environment, I hope people realise that turning down the thermostat or moving to Alaska is not going to make a difference.

      I'm sure most people remember, but just in case, internal body temperature is carefully regulated by your brain, and won't change unless you catch a fever, or start freezing, in which case you have other problems to worry about.

      As for the results of this study, lab mice are not humans, and correlation does
      • Eh, I wouldn't necessarily say that it would have some negative effect on chances of survival. Remember, it only has to do with living long enough to have lots of babies. After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

        Also, keep in mind that we have plenty of former defense mechanisms (storing lots of excess energy as fat, anyone?) that aren't very useful to us now.
        • Re:Confusing title (Score:5, Interesting)

          by radtea ( 464814 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @05:11PM (#16708819)
          Remember, it only has to do with living long enough to have lots of babies. After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

          That is probably not true for humans.

          Humans are creatures of culture: accumulated, collectively held knowledge. The people who transmit culture are elders--in modern society, grandparents. They remember how they raised you, and when you have kids they provide guidance that effectively transmits traditions, habits and beliefs across generations. You, on the other hand, don't remember how you were raised, certainly not at a very early age.

          This may explain why humans live twice as long as they "should". One way of normalizing lifespan across species is to measure it in heartbeats. All mammals except humans live about one billion heartbeats. The range is around 0.7 to 1.1 billion. Humans live over two billion heartbeats, far outside the range of all other mammals. One plausible reason for this is that human groups that had more elders were more effectively able to accumulate knowledge across generations, and therefore were more successful. Not everyone would have to survive into old age to make this effective, but everyone would have to have the capacity to survive into old age to make it likely that a few members of each generation would.

          Ergo, until mouse model results are proven in humans--which so far as I know CR etc has not been--they are interesting, but not nearly so promising as one might naively think. We may already be so heavily optimized for long life that the simple tricks that work well for other species are considerably less effective for us.

          • When we developed fire, evolution stopped because the pressure had been removed. When we first evolved, it was 1 billion heartbeats. Technology made medicine and better nutrition, which improved our lifespan significantly. It's not evolutionary, it's technology.
        • After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

          Untrue. We are social creatures. There is strong evidence to suggest that having grandparents around turned out to be a huge advantage to humans. By having experience in the society, parenting improved., and shared child rearing improved survival rates.

          Parent post is an example of way oversimplified evolutionary theory.
          • Yup, having grandparents was probably important back several thousand years ago, now we just stick them in an old-folks-home. Now they are a hindrance!
        • Actually, we store excess fat and carbohydrates as fat. We don't get energy until we convert 'em to glucose (or ketones!) and then burn them. If we would back off on the carbohydrates, and most importantly stop eating more calories than we burn while we sit on our asses, then we wouldn't get fat.

          Besides, the ability to store energy is still potentially useful when civilization crashes due to the time_t bug :)

          Seriously though, the thing that's not helping us today isn't that we store fat - that's stil

          • by thc69 ( 98798 )
            For instance, you're definitely burning fat reserves when you run a marathon.
            Actually, if you catch me running a marathon, then I'm already burning in hell.
        • After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

          I've heard people post this before, and it's really a bizarre notion. And easily proven wrong -- I have two groups of people. One group evolves the behavior that anyone over child-bearing age gets a overwheming desire to sacrifice their life at any cost to protect a child. The other group evolves a behavior that once you get beyond child-bearing age, you have an overwhelming desire to kill children. Which group is going thrive better? By your logic, it sh

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Intron ( 870560 )
            How about when anyone past child-bearing age gets an overwhelming desire to tell you how you're getting fat, how well your siblings are doing compared to you and how you married the wrong person?
        • Remember, it only has to do with living long enough to have lots of babies. After that, you don't really matter to evolution.
          Worker bees and worker ants don't have babies by definition. Don't bees and ants evolve sophisticated worker traits? How can the workers not "matter to evolution"?
      • They are talking about core body temperature, not your cubicle temperature.

        So, the question is this - If "they" can offer you a gene-splice "cure" for aging that involves you looking like a crocodile or turtle for the next 200 years, do you want it?

        What if you could double your lifespan, but think twice as slow?

        • Both good questions, but they need to be followed up with further questions.

          1) does the gene-cure include a tweak that makes crocoturtle people seem more attractive too?

          2) (assuming "twice as slow" means, "half as fast") slow as in IQ-70? or slow as in the handicapped genius kid from "Malcolm in the Middle?"
      • I wonder what implications this has for those humans whose *normal* body temperature is BELOW the standard 98.6F??

        Frex, mine is typically around 97.5F or even a little lower; at 98.6F, I'm actually running enough of a fever to *notice* that I don't feel well.

        [Consults thermometer known to be accurate] At the moment, it's 96.9F, which starts to border on a feeling of "I could use a hot cuppa," but I'm not yet really chilled.

        A friend also has naturally low body temp, and the other things we have in common is
    • Alaska, here I come!

      That seems to be working for Ted 'Internet Tubes' Stevens.
      That guy is seriously old.

  • Thermostat (Score:4, Funny)

    by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @04:18PM (#16707997) Journal
    So when my dad kept yelling at me not to touch the thermostat, to keep it at 60 degrees, he was really trying to help me live longer?

    Thanks Dad!
    • by Ana10g ( 966013 )
      Wait, so does this mean that when Grandma keeps the thermostat at 150F at the nursing home, she's actually trying to kill herself? WHY GRANDMA, WHY?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        No, she only turns it up when you're around. She can't afford to keep giving you holiday presents on her fixed income, and decided the best solution was to remove you from the picture. For your own safety, I suggest you bribe the nursing staff to put her on heavy sedatives, and get her an electric blanket on her next birthday - that way she'll be too sleepy and comfortable to resume plotting your demise, and you will have effectively turned the tables on the murderous old bag. Old people try to do these
  • Oh crap (Score:2, Funny)

    by FhnuZoag ( 875558 )
    Then with global warming, we'd be truly screwed, eh?
  • It did extend the life by 12-20%, but what will happen in case there is an infection?
    Wouldnt this force us to have relatively poor immunity to diseases ?
    In the end, would this even out?
    • Last I checked, that's what fevers were for.
    • As a close friend with a degree in Foods and Nutrition points out:

      The rodent calorie-restriction longevity increase only shows up in laboratory settings, where the rodents are protected from exposure to infectious agents. When they are allowed such exposure, they prove to be much more susceptable to them, becoming ill more easily and dying form it ditto. So calorie restriction in ordinary environments REDUCES lifespan from this effect alone (i.e. not counting competitive disadvantages of underfeeding).

      • So now we need to compare experimental scientists on a calorie-restricted diet with theoretical scientists. If the experimental scientists live longer we know that it's because they eat fewer calories AND spend most of their time in a lab, and that the rest of us need to do more lab time.
      • by AxelBoldt ( 1490 )
        The rodent calorie-restriction longevity increase only shows up in laboratory settings, where the rodents are protected from exposure to infectious agents. When they are allowed such exposure, they prove to be much more susceptable to them, becoming ill more easily and dying form it ditto.
        That's a very interesting result, do you happen to have a pointer to the paper?
  • Global warming is bad for your health.
  • Ice cream! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @04:22PM (#16708069) Homepage Journal
    Excuse me, I'm off to 31 Flavors. My very life depends on it!
    • Excuse me, I'm off to 31 Flavors. My very life depends on it!

      Actually, I remember seeing something on TV once (was it on Supersize Me?) that the founders of Baskin Robbins died young of heart disease... explain that one science!
      • Well, it's worth mentioning that the inventor of the Atkins diet actually had a congenital heart defect but ended up dying because he slipped on some ice outside his house and hit his poor old head. (No signs of cardiac arrest, besides the fact that you can tell when someone's dead because their heart isn't beating.) No idea about the B-R people but eating a bunch of ice cream all the time is generally considered to be an unhealthy activity.
      • by robpoe ( 578975 )
        it was on supersize me .. and something about they died early or at least had bypasses at an early age
  • The glorious Air Conditioner!

  • They ran commercials years ago showing people from the frigid north somewhere (Russia maybe)? eating Dannon yogurt and living to 100 years old.

    This is nothing new.
  • Live 80 years or so compfortable and warm, than freezing for 90 years or so!
    This is a line from the computergame Aqua Nox.
  • So when people complain that I'm weird for liking a data center cold enough in which to hang meat, I'll have the last laugh? Enjoy your warm, short life in those cozy, tropical getaways, suckers! I'll be here configuring a new web appliance in one of my racks, freezing my ass off and barely able to type with my cold, stiff hands. Hah! I win!
  • Huh, I thought those guys in the server room looked a bit young for their age...
  • Let's see... .5C for 15% extension of life... so 150C decrease in temperature should yeild a 3000% extension....

    Freeze me!

  • I for one welcome our 15% longer living, micro-cryo-frozen mutantmice!
  • This has been discussed many times with the folk-science of elders in colder climates around the world for centuries. If the landscape wasn't violent as well as cold, people up North just seem to live longer.

    • Interesting question. The article says:

      This may be because the body burns less fuel when it is at a lower temperature, which results in the production of fewer free-radical compounds that damage cells and promote the wear and tear of ageing.

      So is there an evolutionary advantage with having a lower body temperature in colder climates? Maybe there is. Since having a lower bodytemperature means having a lower basal metabolism you'd be able to make do with less food than someone with a high basal metabolism

      • The opposite may be true. Lower external temperature means your body will have to generate more heat for homeostasis - to maintain your body's internal temperature. That means more chemical reactions need to occur which means it will burn more fuel.
        • And a individual with a need for a higher internal temperature would therefor be at a double disadvantage in the local (lower-temperature) biotope: they would need more fuel and they would have more, possibly harmful, chemical reactions. So, if (and only if) the proposed free-radical theory holds then it would seem to me that in a warmer biotope nothing stops the free-radical reactions while in a colder biotope there could be a advantage with a lower body temperature.

          And one could add to that fact that i
  • While it's great that this research was carried out and has provided some reasoning behind caloric restriction, it's not a very shocking finding at all. The aging process is just a series of chemical reactions, some that we understand, some that we do not. Most organic reactions are slowed down significantly by relatively small decreases in ambient energy (lowering temp). Hence aging process should be expected to slow down as well.
  • So, if your woman is frigid, will she live longer?
  • ...will we live longer? No, really! I have a bodytemp that's about 36.5 C / 97.7 F.

    Not so cool otherwise I guess.
    • I was kind of thinking the opposite for myself. I have a high metabolism and thus a high body temp. Plus I live in Texas. Guess I'm screwed.
    • Ha! Got you beat. Mine typically varies between 97.4-97.6F. The last time I gave blood (double unit of red cells) it was 97.1F on a nice warm day. (Body temp measured before the blood draw.)

      The thing is, I've never heard of anyone else having an average body temprature a full degree below the human average. Perhaps it's not that uncommon.
    • by DCheesi ( 150068 )
      I'm another one that's about a degree low; I usually read between 97.5 and 98.0. I'm not sure exactly because none of my thermometers have been that accurate, but I do know that I've never read out at 98.5 or above unless I was sick. Speaking of which, I should point out that AFAICT I don't get sick any more often than the average person (maybe less often). Which should serve as at least anecdotal evidence agianst the people claiming this would weaken the immune system...
    • by smchris ( 464899 )

      The occasional childhood problem was making people believe I felt lousy. Some viruses can make you feel pretty crummy with only a degree or so of fever.

      As a down side I wonder if that is a contributing factor to my borderline obesity. I do feel noticeably and unpleasantly cold when I am hungry. And I hate with a passion levels of office air conditioning that others seem to find tolerable.

      Since we are taking names, probably the most famous low temperature person?

      George W. Bush

      President Bush Sails Thro
  • of course! (Score:4, Funny)

    by GrumpySimon ( 707671 ) <email.simon@net@nz> on Friday November 03, 2006 @04:35PM (#16708309) Homepage
    The Fonz will NEVER die!

    Oh, wrong 'cool'. My bad.
  • My body temp is usually a little high, around 99 f. Nice knowing you guys.
  • So looks like the UK Govt has an excuse to stop paying winter fuel top-ups to OAPs then.
  • As a member of the calorie restriction society I have one thing to say:

    Ohhhh my god give me a sandwich!

  • by kthejoker ( 931838 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @05:29PM (#16709107)
    Lest we be fooled, lowering your body temperature as a warm-blooded person is impossible. What the researchers actually did was artificially inject a protein that when unfolding generated higher amounts of heat than normal proteins into the hypothalamus. This tricked the mouse's brain into lowering its internal thermostat.

    This is more like holding a match to a thermometer which can trigger a fire alarm. It's fooling a local sensor to simulate a global sensation.

    So you can't eat ice cream, or live in Antarctica, or whatever to fool it. You have to trick your brain. Even better, at this tricked out brain level, you need less calories to survive because your brain doesn't turn on its "must store fat" warning level as quickly. So this might be a good cure for obesity in the future.

    But seriously, how cool is it that they can use a heat-generating protein to trick a mouse's brain? I love how neurology proves how gullible we are.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      Impossible hey? Come here, I have a nice semi-frozen pond to show you. Bet you $1000 I can lower your body temperature with just one push.
    • So you can't eat ice cream, or live in Antarctica, or whatever to fool it.
      Agreed. In fact, cooling your core body temperature by environmental means would actually cause you to burn more calories to maintain homeostasis.
    • by Oxen ( 879661 )
      What the researchers actually did was artificially inject a protein that when unfolding generated higher amounts of heat
      First of all, they didn't inject a protein, the genetically engineered the mouse to express a protein in the brain.

      Lest we be fooled, lowering your body temperature as a warm-blooded person is impossible.
      Second of all, it is certainly possible to lower the temperature of a warm blooded animal, you just have to add some hydrogen sulfide. []
  • Do people in Finland, Russia, Alaska, Canada, etc... live on average %15 longer than people who live in warmer climates?

    Okay... those in warmer climates who die of old age, not starvation, disease, war, etc...

    • Scandinavia (note, not the Nordic countries, so this excludes Finland) has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, IIRC. I think it's more to do with universal access to healthcare, some of the best in the world, high standards of living, etc. The cold can't hurt either, apparently!
  • I don't have time to read the article, but this kind of makes sense. Especially from a nerd point of view. The hotter something is, the more energy it uses. For humans this requires more fuel which means more calories. It stands to reason that we're on borrowed time and just wearing out our parts. Take care of them and you live longer.
  • I gotta be cold, hungry and drink red wine in moderation while eating fish and vegetables if I want to live longer. And apparently become a Super Villian. As long as I don't have to have that fake Austrian accent.

    Man, and what's up with all the stuff I now have to do to write a comment? Geez.
  • Actually, if you follow the link from the blurb, you will find the idea of calorie restriction increasing longevity is contraversial.

    A rat will eat itself to death, that doesn't mean that starving yourself makes you live longer.
  • The biophysical mechanism in the article makes sense. Reactive oxygen species (i.e., the "free radicals", like superoxide and hydrogen peroxide) are generated in the mitochondria during metabolism. The bulk of the ROS's are scavenged before they can cause harm, but those that aren't neutralized can damage biological molecules (e.g., proteins, lipids, and DNA). On a slightly unrelated note that might make this a bit more concrete, UV rays generate ROS's when they strike biological moleculues in the skin. Th

  • Does this mean you stay younger longer, or older longer?

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.