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WELLNEWS: Live long and squirm!

Over countless lifetimes, humans have sought the secret of immortality — or at least how to live a really, really long time. For the most part, the search for a really, really long life has come up really, really short.

One of the few ways to do it turns out to require living on an almost-starvation diet, which likely only makes life seem longer. But new research suggests a possible way to extract the life-extending benefits of calorie restriction without all of the suffering.

SCOTT LAFEEScientists at Duke University withheld food from a worm called C. elegans, a common animal model, triggering a remarkable response: While the tiny worm continued to fruitlessly look for food (up to two weeks), its cells and organs slipped into a quiescent state. In other words, they stopped aging.

When the worm resumed eating, its normal biology returned, but it lived up to twice as long as normal. Obviously, no one's suggesting something similar for humans, said study author David R. Sherwood.

"It is possible that low-nutrient diets set off the same pathways in us to put our cells in a quiescent state," he says. "The trick is to find a way to pharmacologically manipulate this process so that we can get the anti-aging benefits without the pain of diet restriction."

Body of knowledge

Sanskrit texts dated to 600 B.C. cite one of the first-recorded cosmetic surgeries. Indian physicians reconstructed noses by cutting skin from either the cheek or forehead, twisting the skin side out over a leaf of the appropriate nose size and sewing the skin into place. Two polished wooden tubes would be inserted into the nostrils to keep the air passage open during healing process.

Get me that — stat!

Women who are 55 and younger are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, require artery-opening procedures or die from heart disease if they are moderately or severely depressed, according to a new published study by researchers at Emory University.

Number cruncher

A Wendy's Avocado Bacon Supreme sandwich (100 grams) contains 607 calories, 216 from fat. It has 24 grams of total fat, or 37 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet, according to the CalorieCount.com database.

It also contains 1,687 milligrams of sodium (70 percent); 66 grams of total carbohydrates (22 percent); 12 grams of sugar; and 32 grams of protein.

Phobia of the week

Defecaloesiophobia: Fear of painful bowel movements

Never say diet

The speed-eating record for apple pie is 9 pounds, 8 ounces, in six minutes, held by Jamie "The Bear" McDonald. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.

Best medicine

The patient sat in the exam room, waiting and miserable.

A doctor walked into the room and looked intently at the patient.

"Flu?" asked the patient.

"No, drove to work today," replied the doctor.

Observation

"Laughter is the best medicine, unless you're diabetic, then insulin comes pretty high on the list." — Jasper Carrott

Last words

"Please know that I am quite aware of the hazards. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." — American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) in her last letter to her husband before her last flight.

"KHAQQ calling Itasca. We must be on you, but cannot see you. Gas is running low." — Earhart's last radio transmission before she and co-pilot Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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