BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7115.1104 (Published 25 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1104

Gerontologists have known for many years that restricting the energy intake of rats prolongs their lifespan by as much as 30%. A study in monkeys (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1997;82:2093-6) has now shown that substantially restricting their energy intake resulted in a slowing of the normal age related decline in the steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate. This hormone is an established marker of aging—though the researchers have been careful to warn that adding it to the human diet has not been shown to give any benefit.

Minerva has read with interest, over many years, accounts of the Ranch Bernardo study in California. The subjects are a couple of thousand men and women aged 50–93 living in an affluent retirement community (Circulation 1997;96:37-43). Follow up has shown that serum concentrations of total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol rose in men until the age of 65 and in women until the age of 75; but after that age they declined at a rate of about 1% every year. These changes were independent of changes in weight.

Age related macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness of recent onset in elderly people, but its natural course is still poorly understood (Eye 1997;11:301-14). A study of a cohort of elderly patients first examined in 1982 when …

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