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Lower body temperature extends lifespan

Updated on November 20, 2006

We all know that refrigerating food helps keep it longer. That's because the bacteria and fungi that spoil food grow much more slowly at lower temperatures. Their metabolisms, like that of all living creatures, slow down as they cool down.

Temperature is the key of recent findings by a team of researchers, led by Bruno Conti, at the Scripps Research Institute. Their study found that mice who had lower core body temperatures lived 12% (male) to 20% (female) longer than mice with higher core body temperatures. The difference in temperatures between "cold" and "normal" mice was 0.5-0.9 F (0.3-0.5 C).

Who do you think will live longer? The hothead or the ice queen?
Who do you think will live longer? The hothead or the ice queen?

Lower body temperature = Lower metabolism

The slowing down of aging had already been demonstrated with cold-blooded animals, like fish. Naturally, it was more difficult to see the effect on warm-blooded animals, since there is an internal thermostat in mammals and birds that maintain a more-or-less constant body temperature (a process called homeostasis), and even a small departure from a narrow range can result in the animal's death.

In this study, genetically-modified mice had their hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature, gear down the mice's body temperature lower.

Although this experiment was not performed on humans, one could surmise that a similar effect on humans, especially those who had slowed metabolisms due to caloric restriction (i.e. low-calorie diets). 95% of people have a body temperature between 97.5F (36.2C) and 98.9F (37.2C).

However, with a lower body temperature come a generally weaker immune system and the propensity to put on weight, so a lower body temperature isn't something that we should all be necessarily wishing for.


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    • Man from Modesto profile image

      Man from Modesto 5 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

      This is good news. I have always been two-tenths below average! I also believe that most sickness, even cancer, is really caused by fungus.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I've never heard this before, but I hope it's true; my normal temp is 96.8 degrees F as well. I do have a slow metabolism and put on weight very easily, and as several other commenters have mentioned, I've suffered from iron-deficiency anemia for a long time. I wonder how that's related?

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 6 years ago from Hawaii

      Really interesting stuff - thanks.

    • profile image

      SusanMusin' 6 years ago

      I have always had a low temperature - 96.8ºF instead of 98.6ºF. I am now 74 years old and people take me for at least 15 years younger. I have frequently been questioned about my age by medical people becaue they believe that I am not as old as I claim.

      I was 26 when my twin sons were born but people have suggested that I left school to have them at age 16. I am currently a supply teacher locally and nobody can guess my age so I think that I'll just keep on teaching until I am 90!

      I have fantastic health and long dark blond hair with only a few grey streaks. I have hardly any wrinkles though I do not use special creams or lotions. My bedroom is 54ºF in winter and 66ºF in summer with air conditioning. I am a normal weight for my height and age and have the stength and stamina of someone about 40. My great aunt lived to a healthy 104 and hope to do the same - only 30 years to go!

    • xMidnaTheTwilix profile image

      xMidnaTheTwilix 6 years ago

      Both my mother and I were born with low body temperatures...I normally lie at 95-97, depending on if I'm sick, or if it gets hot here(which East Texas always is). And if I get a fever, it goes up to 97-98. A high temperature is 98-99 for me. I always had a hard time getting out of school as a kid for this reason. :(

      @Vincent, Good Lord! I have never reached 92!

    • profile image

      бебешки дрехи 7 years ago

      Great article. The anti-aging theory of the ausrish scientist Dr. Huber is based on lowing body temparature in order to help the cells regenerate and slow down the aging processes.

    • qwark profile image

      qwark 7 years ago

      Hi livelonger:

      You are correct. I've read the same thing.

      My body temp is generally 97.3.

      Lets hope I don't step off a curb and get hit by a vitamin truck.

      Informative "hub."


    • profile image

      Vincent 7 years ago

      MY body temperature is on average 92 degrees. I have a very slow metabolism, but I work it off, doing things such as parkour. I also have a fairly weak immune system, especially to Strept Throat. I get that more than anything.

    • profile image

      steph191818 8 years ago

      ok guys, my average temperature is 34degrees celcius on a normal day. i don't have Raynauds (however you spell it) and the only thing wrong with me is that i am slightly anemic.....explain that one lol


    • profile image

      Theresa 8 years ago

      Its strange what I've been reading about low body temp and low metabolism. Is that the same as a slow metabolism. I have a normal temp of 95 and have always been able to eat like a pig and stay farely slim. So it doesn't give me a weight gain problem. But I have always looked young for my age I'm told. So I would like to believe this research and hope its true. I have no negative symptoms such as fatique or a fuzzy head though like some with a low temp.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 8 years ago from San Francisco

      Dao: No, this relates to body temperature. You can live in a cold climate and have a high body temperature, or live in a hot climate and have a low body temperature (at least relative to 37C). It all has to do with your body's temperature setpoint.

    • Dao Hoa profile image

      Dao Hoa 8 years ago

      Interesting subject. So people who live in the hot area age faster than the people who live in the cold area? It does not seem true in reallity.

    • profile image

      revenant 8 years ago

      The primary reason a lower body temperature will retard aging, is because sugars and proteins don't bind as fast at a lower temperatures. This cross linking causes pathogenic molecules to form called "Advanced Glycation End Products". These cross-linked sugar/protein molecules can contribute to a host of age related diseases and is one of the main reasons we die of old age.

    • profile image

      pbfredo 8 years ago

      JIm: You need to check your thyroid. I would start taking t3 or armour if your temp is that low.

    • Globritesystem profile image

      Globritesystem 8 years ago

      Does heat increase the rate of decay? Is that why we refrigerate our food?

    • profile image

      RilleL 8 years ago

      QC Stacy: Expect that Wilson's Syndrome is not recogniced as a real disease.

    • QC Stacy profile image

      QC Stacy 8 years ago

      You should include information about Wilson's Syndrome with is associated with lower body temperature.

    • profile image

      Jim 8 years ago

      I have low body temp, I am 38, but no boddy believe it, everyone sees me give me max 31, some give me 28, my normal temp is 35.5c sometimes when I wake up it's 35.1, I feel tired all the time, and can't concentrate as much as I used to be when I was at school. my geart rate is very low about 50. I have been to my dr many times, telling him I don't feel well, I have very bad memory, I cant even remember sometimes what I did in teh morning, or where I ate! I have been having high temp about 39.6 which is too high for me, for normal person its like 40.6, tonight I wanted to know if other people have low body temp, and found out it's related to different things which could be treated. I think I prefer to live healty with full strength then 12% longer and feel tired all my life, I can't remember last time I felt good! Everything seems dull, I ve got no energy for anything

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 9 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Great hub- I've heard there are groups of people who intentionally restrict their calories to lower their body temp and live longer. The caveat is that it deteriates muscle and the heart is a muscle. THe science is all over the place on this, but it is interesting.

    • poorQpine profile image

      poorQpine 9 years ago from USA

      My butt is freezing here. It is -5 outside, as I type, with a -30 wind chill. Guess that means I could possibly live to suffer through many more of these brutally cold winters eh?

    • profile image

      jill b 10 years ago

      ok, this is really a good, i have also read that the lower body temp also makes concentration harder you have anything to add to that. I have always had a normal temp of 96.8 instead of 98.6, and until recently i haven't had any problems with weight, it started hitting me when i hit 30. I am just wondering what is an easy way to speed up my metabolism? I also don't know if me being anemic on and off would make a diffence in all of this.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 11 years ago from Scotland

      great hub livelonger ...jimmy

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 11 years ago from San Francisco

      Interesting, Iðunn -- I never thought about that but definitely during a famine those who have fat/muscle to burn, and those with slower metabolisms, will definitely pull themselves through more easily.

    • vic profile image

      vic 11 years ago

      Very interesting. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 11 years ago

      in agreement and also, that data makes sense. I'm not sure about the co-relationship of one thing to another, say low body temp and body weight, but if you consider that women tend to be cooler-temped and also that women are biologically made to hold weight in hips and tummy for making babies, I could see that connection.

      weird factoid, during the Donner party expedition when they were stranded and starving, women outsurvived men 2-1 or something like that and the science community felt it was because of stored fat related to the biology of carrying children.

    • profile image

      wajay_47 11 years ago

      Livelonger, you do some really informative hubs. Very nice.