independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Slower growth 'increases lifespan'

Lifespan is affected by the rate at which you grow earlier in life, scientists have suggested

The slower you grow, the longer you live, a new study suggests.

Scientists looking at growth patterns in stickleback fish say they discovered lifespan is affected by the rate at which bodies expand early in life.

Bodies which grow quickly accumulate greater tissue damage, with life-shortening results.

A team from Glasgow University altered the growth rate of 240 fish by exposing them to brief cold or warm spells, putting them ahead or behind their normal growth schedule.

Researchers noticed the fish got back on track once their environmental temperature was returned to normal but the change in growth rate affected their rate of ageing.

The slow-growing fish lived for around 30% longer than the stickleback's two-year average, with a lifespan of nearly 1,000 days.

The lifespan of the fast-growing fish was 15% shorter than normal.

Professor Neil Metcalfe, from the university's Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, said the "striking" results occurred despite all the fish reaching the same adult size.

"You might well expect a machine built in haste to fail quicker than one put together carefully and methodically, and our study suggests that this may be true for bodies too," he said.

The paper, Experimental demonstration of the growth rate - lifespan trade-off, is published in the latest edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Press Association

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