Body Temperature Plays Greater Role than Metabolism in Lifespan, Study Shows

According to researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, body temperature may be a more decisive lifespan modulator than metabolic rate.



If you wish to live longer, you may do better in achieving that by focusing more on your body temperature than on your metabolism. This conclusion is based on findings in a study just published in the journal Nature Metabolism.

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The research was led by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT). Other researchers from Wenzhou University and the University of Aberdeen were also involved in the study.

Live fast, die young

The popular belief is that there is an inverse relationship between living fast and maximum lifespan. In a more general sense, living fast is linked to risky lifestyle choices that often lead to premature deaths.

The cause of a shorter lifespan in the biological sense is different from the regular perspective. “Live fast, die young” has more to do with metabolism. Scientists have observed that animals having elevated metabolic rates are more like to die quicker than those with low rates.

It is, however, not very clear how metabolism affects lifespan in some species. For instance, exercise is one of those things that are believed to promote longevity, but it is known to ramp up metabolism.

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There is a link between body temperature and metabolism. Low body temperatures usually go with low metabolic rates. This trend has made it hard to clearly figure out how metabolism impacts lifespan.

Caloric restriction and some other interventions that lead to lower metabolic rates seem to increase lifespan, based on research. However, it was not clear whether it was low metabolic rates or the associated lower body temperatures that prolonged lifespans in mice on caloric restriction.

Temperature and lifespan

Researchers in the current study wanted to find out which between metabolism and body temperature is more crucial for an increased lifespan. To do this, they relied on a setting in which metabolic rate and temperature go in different directions.

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The team observed shortened lifespans in mice and hamsters after exposing them to high temperatures. Metabolism dropped while body temperatures went up at the peak of the thermoneutral zone.

“We found that exposing the rodents to these conditions shortened their lifespans,” said SIAT’s Prof. John R. Speakman, who is a study co-corresponding author. “Lower metabolism didn’t lengthen their lives, but higher temperatures shortened it.”

When the animals’ body temperatures were lowered using small fans, their metabolism was not affected. But the effect of high temperature on lifespan was reserved.

The researchers said their findings suggest there may be a need to replace the saying “live fast, die young” with “live cold, die old.”

They were excited to find that reducing body temperature without altering metabolic rate promoted a longer lifespan. This showed that body temperature has a higher impact on lifespan than metabolic rate, they said.

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Body temperature is a more important modulator of lifespan than the metabolic rate in two small mammals



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