Caloric restriction (CR) reduces the incidence and progression of spontaneous and induced tumors in laboratory rodents while increasing mean and maximum life spans. It has been suggested that CR extends longevity and reduces age-related pathologies by reducing the levels of DNA damage and mutations that accumulate with age. This hypothesis is attractive because the integrity of the genome is essential to a cell/ organism and because it is supported by observations that both cancer and immunological defects, which increase significantly with age and are delayed by CR, are associated with changes in DNA damage and/or DNA repair. Over the last three decades, numerous laboratories have examined the effects of CR on the integrity of the genome and the ability of cells to repair DNA. The majority of studies performed indicate that the age-related increase in oxidative damage to DNA is significantly reduced by CR. Early studies suggest that CR reduces DNA damage by enhancing DNA repair. With the advent of genomic technology and our increased understanding of specific repair pathways, CR has been shown to have a significant effect on major DNA repair pathways, such as NER, BER and double-strand break repair.
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