Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity - NYTimes.com

Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity - NYTimes.com

A group of 99 villagers with Laron syndrome has been studied for 24 years by Dr. Jaime Guevara-Aguirre, an Ecuadorean physician and diabetes specialist.

As Dr. Guevara-Aguirre accumulated health data on his patients, he noticed a remarkable pattern: though cancer was frequent among people who did not have the Laron mutation, those who did have it almost never got cancer. And they never developed diabetes, even though many were obese, which often brings on the condition.

“I discovered the population in 1987,” Dr. Guevara-Aguirre said in an interview from Ecuador. “In 1994, I noticed these patients were not having cancer, compared with their relatives. People told me they are too few people to make any assumption. People said, ‘You have to wait 10 years,’ so I waited. No one believed me until I got to Valter Longo in
2005.”

Valter D. Longo, a researcher on aging at the University of Southern California, saw the patients as providing an opportunity to explore in people the genetic mutations that researchers had found could make laboratory animals live much longer than usual.

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