Chronic Disease, Reliability Theory

The New York Times compares the present day with a past of shorter life spans and even more widespread suffering from age-related disease. "Diseases early in life left people predisposed to chronic illnesses when they grew older. ... Suppose you were a survivor of typhoid or tuberculosis. What would that do to aging? ... the number of chronic illnesses at age 50 was much higher in that group. ... Something is being undermined. Even the cancer rates were higher. Ye gods. We never would have suspected that. ... Men who had respiratory infections or measles tended to develop chronic lung disease decades later. Malaria often led to arthritis. Men who survived rheumatic fever later developed diseased heart valves." The reliability theory of aging and longevity goes a long way towards explaining why prevalence of chronic disease is linked to shorter life spans via an increased rate of cellular damage.



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