New research claims that reducing insulin signals inside brain cells increases lifespan in mice.
Researchers also concluded that having a healthy lifestyle and weight that reduces insulin levels could also be an important factor in increasing longevity in humans.
The study, conducted by researchers from the the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US is published today in Science journal. The research looked at the effects of a protein, IRS2, which carries the insulin signal in the brain and showed that the mice with half the amount of the protein lived 18 per cent longer than normal mice.
"This is an interesting study as the work done on mice could suggest that insulin is playing a role in the ageing process,” said Matt Hunt, Science Information Manager at Diabetes UK.
"Nevertheless, we are looking at numerous and extremely complex gene interactions in the brain and this research doesn't yet explain how this mechanism might be working.
“We have to remember that human longevity has been steadily increasing, despite rising levels of obesity and diabetes, due to improvements in access to healthcare, clean water and better public health initiatives. This means that insulin levels in the brain would be only one of many factors when it comes to improving longevity.
"We welcome the fact that this study supports Diabetes UK's key message of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, including having a balanced diet and taking enough physical activity, to improve health outcomes.
"Although quite speculative it would be interesting to see how the authors think their findings might be applied to humans."