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Short-term food shortages and CR'd populations


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(Fork from a CR Practice post.)



6.  Or perhaps the more extreme, short-term food shortage stresses that occurred during WWII for both Ikaria and Okinawa produced longer-term changes in the population?


Hm.... I've started typing thinking I had enough time to write something useful but I see I've got to run in a moment to catch my train. RAther than erase everything and wait to reply later, I'll note one thing about your question 6: I'm not sure that's been investigated, and it's a particularly excellent question. (And, by the way, I don't think it is a question that's been posed before, at least not around here!) One would need a comparison/control group that also was subjected to food shortages (but with sufficient vitamins and minerals -- which in this context could mean suboptimal, but good enough-ish [1]). Fortunately, such groups exist: north of Ikaria in Europe there were also food shortages, but these people went back to Western patterns of eating. The acute shortage seems to have provided a longevity pay-off, but the northerners don't live as long as the Ikarians.


This post has the rigor of a drunken note hastily written on a bar napkin as the bartender is trying to go home for the night. Much more to investigate here. More later. Comments, in the meantime, on my preliminary thoughts would be welcome.


- Brian


[1] Some people around here will dismiss the WWII data as irrelevant because it wasn't CR it was FR (mere food restriction), but I think, while the qualification about lower food quality is important, the data is still relevant.

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There's actually a surprising amount of epidemiological evidence in support of this ... The Okinawans are the extreme end of this, followed with slightly weaker evidence by the Ikarians, Sardinians, and Sicani mountains in Sicily, but there is also somewhat more robust evidence on major lifestyle diseases (rather than extreme longevity) being quite substantially improved by relatively short economic crises:


atherosclerotic plaque is either greatly decelerated, or possibly reversed, in concentration camp victims and in major economic depressions.(159,160) ...


An additional, inherently weak line of evidence, but perhaps capturing some data from normal-weight individuals, is the counterintuitive finding in numerous studies that total mortality rates seem to fall during major economic recessions.(191-198) While deaths from suicide rise, mortality from circulatory diseases and diabetes fall (as one might reasonably expect), with inconsistent effects on different infections and (in South Korea) a reduction in stomach cancer mortality.(196) Such results are perhaps less surprising in otherwise-prosperous countries in the late twentieth century,(191,194-197) but are much more surprising in settings like post-Soviet Eastern Europe,(192) contemporary Cuba (where an associated reduction in food intake and body weight was also documented),(193) and the United States itself during the Great Depression.(192)


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There is a study of effects of starvation in early life methlylating genes for several generations.




"The starved worms also had offspring that were smaller, fewer and less fertile. However, these children and grandchildren of famine turned out to be more resistant to starvation and a heat-tolerance test."

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