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Two Techniques That Claim to Outwit Aging

Traditionally, deprivation diets have not been celebrated as a smart way to lose weight. And traditionally, too, people have been dubbed hypochrondriacs who lived in dread of diseases when symptoms didn't exist. But two new twists in the quest for immortality have turned this conventional logic on its head:

Anti-Aging Technique #1

A diet that smacks of starvation is being called the only proven life-extender. When a woman limits her calories to 1,100 in a day, or a man takes in only 1,500, the diet seems too drastic to last long.

But following rat, monkey and Labrador retriever studies that suggest severe calorie restriction might significantly lengthen the animals' lives, human believers are jumping on the diet-wagon in the hopes of increasing their own longevity. Many Americans are willing to give up 30 percent of their daily calories to strive for a 30 percent increase in lifespan.

Scientists don't know how calorie restriction works to extend lifespan, but it seems to achieve biochemical changes that might, or might not, have to do with reduction of free radicals — marauders that wreak havoc on our cells.

Whether calorie-restriction followers will actually reach the age of 150 remains to be seen. But until more studies are completed, geriatric medicine professor T. Franklin Williams, M.D., discourages people from undertaking this severe diet. People on the diet "could lose weight to the extent of seriously weakening the body," warns the University of Rochester professor and scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research.

Anti-Aging Technique #2

People are being encouraged to get full-body scans just in case their seemingly healthy bodies actually have something to hide.

A cemetery is the bone-chilling backdrop to one full-body scan commercial, which aims to sell consumers on the idea that the quick and painless medical peek into the body, using CT (computed tomography) scanning, can keep them from an early grave.

It's true that the earlier the better when it comes to detecting the early signs of cancer, heart problems and other conditions that can kill. But at what price?

The price for the scans can be $1,000, which isn't covered by insurance. Seems like a small amount to pay for saving your life, but can the devices do that? Not likely if you're not experiencing any symptoms, say most medical experts.

Not only will they not save your life, the scans could generate unnecessary concerns about an organ speck that isn't serious and subject you to pointless radiation exposure. Your $1,000 might be better spent on recommended medical check-ups and screenings. Daniel Perry says his Alliance for Aging Research is "fairly bullish" on various preventive screenings, but he calls the full-body scans a "fad": "By and large, the scans are done on the 'worried well' looking for a one-stop shop to find out anything and everything that's wrong with them, but the technology is not a key to longevity."