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Caloric Restriction: A Key to Understanding and Modulating Aging
by Edward J. Masoro

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Elsevier Health Sciences; (November 1, 2002) ISBN: 0444511628

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This book was first drawn to our attention by Ed Budge. It's a real gem.

Suppose you've read Beyond the 120 Year Diet, and have done some abstract-surfing, and want to get a better grounding in the state of CR science. A decade ago, the only real overview was Weindruch & Walford's encyclopedic _The Retardation of Aging and Disease by Dietary Restriction_ (1988; Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas). The problem with this is that ('a') for most folks this will just be too damned much information: it's a BIG book, in which W&W seem to've literally cited every CR study ever performed at the time, & often discusses them; and ('b') it's 15 years out of date -- & the last decade has seen explosive growth of very important CR research. To cite just 2 examples: the primate studies were JUST getting under way in 1998, and none of the studies on CR's effects on mtROS had been performed.

THIS is likely the first book most will want to turn to. It IS a technical, scientific book, but it doesn't assume any particular background, so tho' it's for biologists (& hence nonscientists may need to work a little here & there), it's not dense slogging. It's short (just 182 pages), so there isn't room for any great detail; instead, you'll get a rapid, rushing tour thru' very quick summaries of a huge volume of material.

The book is well-organized, putting relevant material together intelligently and with the overarching structure progressing logically. I was frankly surprised by how often when what looks like one uniform result ("CR fights diseasse X") is actually being reported to be much more complex ("CR retards the incidence of X in mice, but only the progression in rats"). This complexity, in the process of a whirlwind tour, was to me one of the best features of the book.

The one complaint I have is that Masoro really seems to've slacked off on the human research. Aside from a couple of brief, passing references to the Biosphere experiment, there's virtually nothing on what is, TO ME, one of the most important (albeit small and (in isolation) weak) area of research -- & which OUGHT, IMO, to be a key question in CR research, whether one is a practicing CR dieter oneself or not: namely, does this apply to humans, or are scientists investing huge amount of financial and intellectual capital in investigating an oddity confined to short-lived animals?

Still, the book should really fill a niche for the aspiring armchair CR scientist: a step up from BT120YD, but neither an overwhelming tome nor an invitation into an unending self-directed hunt through the maze of published papers. Clearly written, broad in sweep, and quick to read, this is your doorway into the science of CR.