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Keeping Cool May Be the Key To Longevity

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the everybody-be-cool-you-be-cool dept.

224

merryprankster writes "New Scientist reports that Scripps Research Institute scientists have found that lowering the body temperature of mice by just 0.5C extends their lifespan by around 15%. Until now the only proven way of increasing longevity has been calorie restriction — but as this also causes a lowering of body temperature the researchers speculate that this cooling may be the underlying mechanism retarding aging. In this study mice with a defect in their lateral hypothalamus, which has the side effect of cooling body temperature, not only lived longer but also ate normal amounts."

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224 comments

I hear that the key (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16707969)

is how much sperm you swallow.

Re:I hear that the key (1)

Cutie Pi (588366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708007)

I should live a long and fruitful life then!

Re:I hear that the key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708335)

You and I should get together

Re:I hear that the key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708605)

Aw! :P

Sweet! (2, Funny)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 7 years ago | (#16707981)

Alaska, here I come!

Re:Sweet! (1)

cdrdude (904978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708293)

Me, I'm just taking off my sweatshirt now. No joke, as soon as I read it, I took it off (I didn't read TFA of course, this is still slashdot).

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708415)

Before we all go turning the thermostat down, how does the body regulate temperature in reaction to surroundings? I would think that your core temperature might increase with a cooler environment. So would you actually want to move towards the Equator?

Re:Sweet! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708845)

It's not like we know what part of the body it applies to. Maybe it's brain temperature. Or maybe it's pituitary gland temperature.

Personally I run hot no matter what but the only time I'm not uncomfortable is when I'm in a cool environment. Since I'm hot all the time, I guess I'm going to die young :( On the plus side it's a good excuse to drive like a maniac. "Sorry honey, I know you hate hearing about how fast I drive on the way to and from work, but since I generate so much heat I'm dying young anyhow."

Confusing title (3, Insightful)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708423)

Despite the title, and all the comments talking about living in a low-temperature environment, I hope people realise that turning down the thermostat or moving to Alaska is not going to make a difference.

I'm sure most people remember, but just in case, internal body temperature is carefully regulated by your brain, and won't change unless you catch a fever, or start freezing, in which case you have other problems to worry about.

As for the results of this study, lab mice are not humans, and correlation does not imply cause... both mice and humans must have evolved to have their normal body temperature for a reason, so lowering it will undoubtedly have some negative effect on the chances of survival.

Re:Confusing title (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708577)

Eh, I wouldn't necessarily say that it would have some negative effect on chances of survival. Remember, it only has to do with living long enough to have lots of babies. After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

Also, keep in mind that we have plenty of former defense mechanisms (storing lots of excess energy as fat, anyone?) that aren't very useful to us now.

Re:Confusing title (4, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708819)

Remember, it only has to do with living long enough to have lots of babies. After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

That is probably not true for humans.

Humans are creatures of culture: accumulated, collectively held knowledge. The people who transmit culture are elders--in modern society, grandparents. They remember how they raised you, and when you have kids they provide guidance that effectively transmits traditions, habits and beliefs across generations. You, on the other hand, don't remember how you were raised, certainly not at a very early age.

This may explain why humans live twice as long as they "should". One way of normalizing lifespan across species is to measure it in heartbeats. All mammals except humans live about one billion heartbeats. The range is around 0.7 to 1.1 billion. Humans live over two billion heartbeats, far outside the range of all other mammals. One plausible reason for this is that human groups that had more elders were more effectively able to accumulate knowledge across generations, and therefore were more successful. Not everyone would have to survive into old age to make this effective, but everyone would have to have the capacity to survive into old age to make it likely that a few members of each generation would.

Ergo, until mouse model results are proven in humans--which so far as I know CR etc has not been--they are interesting, but not nearly so promising as one might naively think. We may already be so heavily optimized for long life that the simple tricks that work well for other species are considerably less effective for us.

Re:Confusing title (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708829)

After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

Untrue. We are social creatures. There is strong evidence to suggest that having grandparents around turned out to be a huge advantage to humans. By having experience in the society, parenting improved., and shared child rearing improved survival rates.

Parent post is an example of way oversimplified evolutionary theory.

Re:Confusing title (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708925)

Actually, we store excess fat and carbohydrates as fat. We don't get energy until we convert 'em to glucose (or ketones!) and then burn them. If we would back off on the carbohydrates, and most importantly stop eating more calories than we burn while we sit on our asses, then we wouldn't get fat.

Besides, the ability to store energy is still potentially useful when civilization crashes due to the time_t bug :)

Seriously though, the thing that's not helping us today isn't that we store fat - that's still useful. It's whatever part of us that makes us keep eating after we're full. You might note that some people don't do this, and they tend not to be fat :P

When coupled with the fat storage mechanism, this used to be a very useful trait - you'd eat when there was plenty, and live [partly] off your reserves when there wasn't. The fat storage may still help us someday, and it does help people in some situations. For instance, you're definitely burning fat reserves when you run a marathon.

Re:Confusing title (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708935)

After that, you don't really matter to evolution.

I've heard people post this before, and it's really a bizarre notion. And easily proven wrong -- I have two groups of people. One group evolves the behavior that anyone over child-bearing age gets a overwheming desire to sacrifice their life at any cost to protect a child. The other group evolves a behavior that once you get beyond child-bearing age, you have an overwhelming desire to kill children. Which group is going thrive better? By your logic, it shouldn't matter, since the only difference is among people past child-bearing age.

Re:Confusing title (1)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709087)

Well, those are fairly reasonable points, but if you're going to get into the finer details...

It's also generally an evolutionary advantage to live on a little to look after your offspring. Not much use spawning lots of babies and dropping dead. You only really become less important after your offspring have made it to adulthood.

As for not needing fat - it may be an unnecessary weight on the waists of the fast-food eating, TV-watching populations, but there must be many people around the world even today for whom fat reserves are a definite plus. Fat may be just be unhealthy if you're leading a safe, comfortable lifestyle, but if there's a disaster or a famine - when it counts - it makes a difference.

I agree that the human body isn't necessarily optimally adapted for life in the modern world, but trying to alter it is always going to involve some kind of tradeoff. I would have liked the article to discuss that, rather than simply holding out "staying cool" as the key to increasing longevity.

I live in Montana and feel younger (1)

dbdweeb (598548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708957)

Since escaping the Slick-On Valley rat race and moving to Montana I've felt much younger. I feel sorry for all those rats I left behind.

Thermostat (3, Funny)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16707997)

So when my dad kept yelling at me not to touch the thermostat, to keep it at 60 degrees, he was really trying to help me live longer?

Thanks Dad!

Re:Thermostat (1)

Ana10g (966013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708349)

Wait, so does this mean that when Grandma keeps the thermostat at 150F at the nursing home, she's actually trying to kill herself? WHY GRANDMA, WHY?

Re:Thermostat (2, Funny)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708611)

No, she only turns it up when you're around. She can't afford to keep giving you holiday presents on her fixed income, and decided the best solution was to remove you from the picture. For your own safety, I suggest you bribe the nursing staff to put her on heavy sedatives, and get her an electric blanket on her next birthday - that way she'll be too sleepy and comfortable to resume plotting your demise, and you will have effectively turned the tables on the murderous old bag. Old people try to do these things all the time, and its time we fought back. VIVA LA RESISTANCE!

Re:Thermostat (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709011)

when I was a kid I knew that if I wanted to live longer I wouldn't turn up the thermostat, but that had more to do with my dad than any scientific study.

What about infections? (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708035)

It did extend the life by 12-20%, but what will happen in case there is an infection?
Wouldnt this force us to have relatively poor immunity to diseases ?
In the end, would this even out?

Re:What about infections? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708357)

Wouldnt this force us to have relatively poor immunity to diseases ?

No.

On the other hand it might go a long way toward explaining why there seem to be so many people with defective brains shuffling about.

KFG

Re:What about infections? (1)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708359)

Cold air doesn't cause infections, but it can facillitate the "catching" of an infection. The invading organism must be present in order for one to become infected.

Cold air has to be warmed before it gets to the lungs, which is accomplished when blood vessels dialate in the nose to increase blood flow in the nose to warm the air. It (cold air) also causes the mucus to thicken, which inhibits removal of particles and organisms from the body.

If "poor immunity" were true, then people who live in cold regions would be sick more then they are. There was a study done with scientists in Antartica (don't have any references, sorry). The scientists only got sick when they came in contact with an infected person. Who's to say they wouldn't have gotten sick, anyway? The point was that the cold wasn't making them "sick". Besides, if you aren't exposed to things, how are you supposed to build up an immunity? Innoculations are injections of dead invaders into your body so you can make antibodies.

Re:What about infections? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708483)

It wasn't the cold, it was the rhinovirus!

Re:What about infections? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708551)

It's true that cold doesn't cause infections, and a lot of research suggests that it doesn't even help "catching" infections. The idea that being out in the cold will cause you to get colds is pretty much bunk. If being cold manages to cause significant congestion or inflammation, the congestion or inflammation can become a good breading ground for bacteria. Now, I'm not a doctor, but this is what I've heard from various sources, including doctors.

However, I've also read that the human immune system works better at higher temperatures. That means that, once you have an infection, your body will fight it off better if your body temperature is raised. This may be why we have fevers [wikipedia.org] when we're sick.

Re:What about infections? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708949)

We have fevers when we're sick because the organisms that cause that reaction in us are more fragile than we are, and they die at a lower temperature. A fever is your body's attempt to cook whatever's eating you. Or at least, that's my understanding.

Bingo (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708907)

As a close friend with a degree in Foods and Nutrition points out:

The rodent calorie-restriction longevity increase only shows up in laboratory settings, where the rodents are protected from exposure to infectious agents. When they are allowed such exposure, they prove to be much more susceptable to them, becoming ill more easily and dying form it ditto. So calorie restriction in ordinary environments REDUCES lifespan from this effect alone (i.e. not counting competitive disadvantages of underfeeding).

Lowered body temperature has been known for a long time to suppress the immune system. Lowered temperature a symptom of the calorie restriction and lowered temperature alone able to produce the longevity increase is entirely consistent with the previous info - just pushing understanding of the mechanism one step further down.

Of course a big push in researching the longevity increase was to see if there was a point where the mechanisms leading to immune suppression and the absent-infection logevity increase diverge, so a practical intervention can be designed. This research implies they're still coupled at the lower-body-temperature step.

Re:Bingo (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708979)

So now we need to compare experimental scientists on a calorie-restricted diet with theoretical scientists. If the experimental scientists live longer we know that it's because they eat fewer calories AND spend most of their time in a lab, and that the rest of us need to do more lab time.

Umm (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708041)

"retarding aging"


... yeah, that's what ... I ... remember ... about that ... umm ... thing ... aswell.

Ice cream! (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708069)

Excuse me, I'm off to 31 Flavors. My very life depends on it!

Flawed Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708513)

"but as this [calorie restriction] also causes a lowering of body temperature"

I don't think the net effect will end up in your favor.

Re:Ice cream! (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708515)

Excuse me, I'm off to 31 Flavors. My very life depends on it!

Actually, I remember seeing something on TV once (was it on Supersize Me?) that the founders of Baskin Robbins died young of heart disease... explain that one science!

Re:Ice cream! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709013)

Well, it's worth mentioning that the inventor of the Atkins diet actually had a congenital heart defect but ended up dying because he slipped on some ice outside his house and hit his poor old head. (No signs of cardiac arrest, besides the fact that you can tell when someone's dead because their heart isn't beating.) No idea about the B-R people but eating a bunch of ice cream all the time is generally considered to be an unhealthy activity.

Re:Ice cream! (1)

robpoe (578975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709109)

it was on supersize me .. and something about they died early or at least had bypasses at an early age

Live longer, but why bother? (1)

minniger (32861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708101)

Let's see... be cold all the time and eat just enough to keep your body going.

Sounds like a ton of fun.

I think I'll pass...

Re:Live longer, but why bother? (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708573)

reminds me of the guy from "blackhawk down" talking about how americans "all live long, dull and uninteresting lives."

Re:Live longer, but why bother? (1)

SevenHands (984677) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708863)

Thinking about how much television we watch also reminds me of what that guy said. We seem preoccupied trying to live someone elses life, even if that other life is media manufactured.

Don't you remember Dannon yogurt? (2, Interesting)

the Gray Mouser (1013773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708103)

They ran commercials years ago showing people from the frigid north somewhere (Russia maybe)? eating Dannon yogurt and living to 100 years old.

This is nothing new.

Re:Don't you remember Dannon yogurt? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708279)

I think those people lived that long because of low stress not because they fed little or shivered in the cold.

This explains everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708105)

The reason I am a fat lazy slob is because I have defective hypothalamus. It's not because I sit in front of a computer all day reading slashdot and not exercising, it's because I have abnormal brain composition.

I rather (1)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708129)

Live 80 years or so compfortable and warm, than freezing for 90 years or so!
This is a line from the computergame Aqua Nox.

Re:I rather (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708209)

Live 80 years or so compfortable and warm, than freezing for . . .

50 years and then getting hit by a truck. Longevity studies have little to do with how long you'll live.

KFG

Re:I rather (1)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708225)

Live 80 years or so compfortable and warm, than freezing for 90 years or so!

Do you think that explains why old people move to Florida? They're all trying to go where it's warm to hurry up and die?

Sweet, sweet data center air conditioning (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708133)

So when people complain that I'm weird for liking a data center cold enough in which to hang meat, I'll have the last laugh? Enjoy your warm, short life in those cozy, tropical getaways, suckers! I'll be here configuring a new web appliance in one of my racks, freezing my ass off and barely able to type with my cold, stiff hands. Hah! I win!

Hmmmm.... (1)

meckardt (113120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708153)

Let's see... .5C for 15% extension of life... so 150C decrease in temperature should yeild a 3000% extension....

Freeze me!

Oh, God! Don't cook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708323)

Let's see... .5C for 15% extension of life... so 150C decrease in temperature should yeild a 3000% extension...

So, when you read the directions to cook a turkey and see "cook 5 hrs for 20 lb at 325 degrees". Do you think, "well, if I cook it at 650 degrees, I can get it done in 2.5 hours. And if I bring it down to the kiln at the art studio, cook it at 1300 degrees, I can have it done in 1 hour and 15 minutes! OR, I can bring the turkey down to my local steel mill, put into the balst furance at 2600 dgrees and I have my turkey in a little over a half hour! Woohoo!

Re:Oh, God! Don't cook. (1)

DDubz (1018636) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708389)

This is kinda off topic but if you deep fry your turkey it tastes much better AND cooks faster!

I knew my graphics card would kill me (1)

dryriver (1010635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708155)

must... find... better... heatsink.... yeaaaarggghh... /RIP

Re:I knew my graphics card would kill me (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708263)

It's the other way around. You better keep the heat in you computer and processor instead of having it blown into your room!

Minnesoooooootans? (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708213)

This has been discussed many times with the folk-science of elders in colder climates around the world for centuries. If the landscape wasn't violent as well as cold, people up North just seem to live longer.

Re:Minnesoooooootans? (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708993)

Interesting question. The article says:
This may be because the body burns less fuel when it is at a lower temperature, which results in the production of fewer free-radical compounds that damage cells and promote the wear and tear of ageing.

So is there an evolutionary advantage with having a lower body temperature in colder climates? Maybe there is. Since having a lower bodytemperature means having a lower basal metabolism you'd be able to make do with less food than someone with a high basal metabolism (well, before the generally affluent times we live in now). The ones that could make it through the long cold winters for one reason or another must have had an advantage.

But question is, do cold climate populations have a lower body tempertaure in general. I know I do (being of hardy finnish farmer stock ;) but one sample says nothing.

Must be exponential. (1)

BigAssRat (724675) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708219)

Since I hear that lowering your body to say 0 degrees centigrade will keep you from aging a day.

Is this news to anyone that's used a refrigerator? (1)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708243)

While it's great that this research was carried out and has provided some reasoning behind caloric restriction, it's not a very shocking finding at all. The aging process is just a series of chemical reactions, some that we understand, some that we do not. Most organic reactions are slowed down significantly by relatively small decreases in ambient energy (lowering temp). Hence aging process should be expected to slow down as well.

Re:Is this news to anyone that's used a refrigerat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708999)

nice insight...after the fact.

noob.

Frigid woman (1, Funny)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708265)

So, if your woman is frigid, will she live longer?

For us cool people... (1, Interesting)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708295)

...will we live longer? No, really! I have a bodytemp that's about 36.5 C / 97.7 F.

Not so cool otherwise I guess.

Re:For us cool people... (1)

HoboMaster (639861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708563)

I was kind of thinking the opposite for myself. I have a high metabolism and thus a high body temp. Plus I live in Texas. Guess I'm screwed.

If they don't kill me first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708353)

My body temp has always been about 3 degrees F colder than normal. When I get sick, I have a real hard time talking nurses/doctors into believing that's a 6 degree fever, not a 3 degree one, and I need help NOW.
Almost died from viral pnuemonia once...

Re:If they don't kill me first (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708441)

My body temp has always been about 3 degrees F colder than normal.

And now you know why. Just wait until your coworkers figure it out.

KFG

longevity here I come! (1)

Polybius (743489) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708355)

This is good news to me. Ever since I was a kid my non-sick temperature ranges from 97.0 to 97.8 during routine checkups.

Warm climates (1)

joshsnow (551754) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708375)

So, the next piece of research will be telling us that people who live in warmer climates have a shorter average lifespan, right?

metric conversion error? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708473)

Average body temp appears to actally be closer to 98.2. The 98.6 figure comes from a rounding error in converting from celsius.

From Lena Wong [hypertextbook.com]
"I vaguely remember hearing that the oft-quoted healthy human body temperature of 98.6 degrees fahrenheit was a "factoid"-- a statement treated as factual that has, in fact, never been verified. I have sent students out in search of real research on this matter, but they have all come up negative. It is a surprisingly difficult assignment. Source after source faithfully states that the temperature of a healthy human body is 98.6 F or 37 C -- no exceptions, end of story. The table above hints at the "truth"of the matter.

The first systematic measurements of human body temperature were performed by the German physician Carl Wunderlich. In 1861 he measured the temperatures of one million healthy individuals (a sample size that seems too large to be believed). The average value was reported as 37 degrees celsius. When converted this value becomes 98.6 degreed fahrenheit. So what's the problem? Wunderlich's value has only two significant figures while the converted value has three. The last digit (the "point six" at the end) should be regarded with great suspicion. Wunderlich's converted value should really be stated as "ninety eight point something" if one is being honest.

In 1992 Mackowiak, Wasserman, and Levine measured the body temperatures of 65 men and 65 women and came up with a value of 36.8 C (98.2 F). You can do a statistical analysis of the data yourself. The numbers are available online at numerous websites including The Physics Factbook"

Sub-Zero wins! Sorry, Granny, time to hibernate. (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708639)

So looks like the UK Govt has an excuse to stop paying winter fuel top-ups to OAPs then.

Does that mean... (1)

Admin_Jason (1004461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708643)

Cryogenics is for real? People have been freezing their eggs and embryos for years, and reducing temperature has long been known to slow the metabolism. What grandiose parent organization funded research to prove the obvious? Instead, you should have given me the research funds and I would study the effects of caffeine in underpaid technicians for periods of 5+ years. Provided of course I could publish the results independantly in book form for additional subsidies from the likes of Barnes and Noble and Amazon! [/rant] In all seriousness though, as the most of the previous posts do seem to lean toward this end of sarcasm and wit, the larger issue is that grant and research dollars are being funneled to projects like this. At what point do we step up and say stop wasting our tax dollars?

Finaly som good news (1)

Varris (252466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708747)

After a dozen of years discovering that everything fun is unhealty, finaly some good news! We can eat Pita, pizza and hamburgers as long as we keep cool. Turn the airco a bit lower or get red or get rid of that sweater and fine!

Suspended animation is no way to live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16708843)

Yeah, if we eat less, don't move, and encase ourselves in ice, we can live forever. Wouldn't be much of a life, though.

"It ain't the years, it's the mileage." If there's less wear and tear on your body, of course it won't break down as fast. Cold slows things down. Duh.

I'd rather live 72 years with enough heat to feel comfortable than 80 years freezing my ass off.

As a member of the calorie restriction society... (5, Funny)

Washizu (220337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16708933)

As a member of the calorie restriction society I have one thing to say:

Ohhhh my god give me a sandwich!

So this means (1)

Goblez (928516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709025)

Cartman had it right! Damn, I'm going to bury myself in some snow in the mountains. Wiiii!!!!

Don't Get It Backwards (4, Informative)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16709107)

Lest we be fooled, lowering your body temperature as a warm-blooded person is impossible. What the researchers actually did was artificially inject a protein that when unfolding generated higher amounts of heat than normal proteins into the hypothalamus. This tricked the mouse's brain into lowering its internal thermostat.

This is more like holding a match to a thermometer which can trigger a fire alarm. It's fooling a local sensor to simulate a global sensation.

So you can't eat ice cream, or live in Antarctica, or whatever to fool it. You have to trick your brain. Even better, at this tricked out brain level, you need less calories to survive because your brain doesn't turn on its "must store fat" warning level as quickly. So this might be a good cure for obesity in the future.

But seriously, how cool is it that they can use a heat-generating protein to trick a mouse's brain? I love how neurology proves how gullible we are.
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