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Study reveals cooler conditions may prolong lifespan

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-03-16 15:07
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People brave scorching heat in Beijing, June 18, 2021. The country has seen its hottest year in six decades. China's national average temperature was 10.7 C in 2021, 1 C higher than usual and the highest reading in 60 years, according to China Meteorological Administration. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- Chinese and British scientists found that animals living in temperate conditions may have longer lifespans, which may be a clue to people's efforts for longevity.

Researchers from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, along with collaborators from Wenzhou University, Liaocheng University and the University of Aberdeen, conducted an experiment revealing how body temperature affects the lifespan of rodents.

Scientists previously speculated that animals with high metabolic rates tend to have a shorter lifespan than those with slow metabolisms.

In this study, the researchers exposed hamsters to high temperatures, about 32.5 degrees Celsius, and found that metabolism fell as body temperature went up.

They also found that the lifespan of hamsters living in high temperatures dropped by 41 percent for males and 28 percent for females, compared with those living in about 21 degrees Celsius, according to the study published recently in the journal Nature Metabolism.

The researchers then used small fans to blow air over the rodents exposed to high temperatures. This did not affect their metabolic rate but lowered their body temperatures.

With the lower body temperatures, the rodent lifespan recovered to the level of those living at 21 degrees Celsius.

The researchers hypothesize that body temperature is a much more important mediator of lifespan than metabolic rate. Therefore, we may "live cool, die old," rather than "live slow, die old."

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