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November 6, 2009 | 1 minute read

Restricting Calories: Preventing Cancer?

The morning research conference session starts out with the tantalizing question of how can delay aging, asked by Rafael de Cabo, PhD. Dr. Cabo, who works at NIH’s National Institute on Aging, said how in the lab, the only way that we can restrict aging so far is by calorie restriction. Caloric restriction also delays tumor formation. (In lab research, caloric restriction diets are usually extreme.)

Caloric restriction seems counter-intuitive, he explains. You would think that lowering one’s calories – energy – would lead to fatigue and the organisms’ functions would shut down. But that is not the case; it somehow uses the energy it has in a different way.

Somehow, Dr. Cabo said, the organism or cell has a way to sense the nutrients. Dr. Cabo presented his lab’s research on the link between a specific gene — Nrf2 – and caloric restriction. He is looking at if Nrf2 activates the effect of calorie restriction, and if so, how it works. As usual, his research is turning up more questions and is ongoing.

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