I'd like to see some of the researchers tackle CVTs as well. These are built to shift a bit more often than your normal geared transmission, lack a clutch in many cases, and in general wear differently than a geared transmission. While I agree that any shift will provide wear, I don't think we can blindly apply geared transmission logic to belted/disc transmissions.
For example: I can't tell someone to not do this because it will burn out the clutch, since in the case of the Subaru CVT, it uses a torque convertor which is going to see the same wear regardless of what the transmission is doing (in the general case, anyways).
All transmissions are designed to deliver power in one direction.......Slowing the vehicle is a secondary provision. With the CVT, it may not make a lot of difference which way the strain is going. But it very well could be that it is much more rugged in the power on direction.
Also, torque convertors are directional as well. Many auto trannie failures actually start as torque convertor failures. (When bits start to break loose, they go all through the transmission. In general, any major work on a trannie includes a torque convertor replacement.) Driving the motor with the car is not what they are designed to do. Just sayin'.
Again, brake pads are relatively cheap, and easily replaced. If you want to save your brakes, plan ahead, just take your foot off the gas sooner. Try it. You will be suprized how little you will need your brakes.
I did not put brake pads/shoes on my 4runner until it had 180k on it. Manual trannie, but I don't downshift it to slow, either.