Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 22 September 2004
Vol. 2004, Issue 38, p. or17


Inflammatory Exposure and Historical Changes in Human Life-Spans

Caleb E. Finch, and Eileen M. Crimmins

Abstract: Science 305, 1736-1739 (2004).

Most explanations of the increase in life expectancy at older ages over history emphasize the importance of medical and public health factors of a particular historical period. We propose that the reduction in lifetime exposure to infectious diseases and other sources of inflammation--a cohort mechanism--has also made an important contribution to the historical decline in old-age mortality. Analysis of birth cohorts across the life-span since 1751 in Sweden reveals strong associations between early-age mortality and subsequent mortality in the same cohorts. We propose that a "cohort morbidity phenotype" represents inflammatory processes that persist from early age into adult life.

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Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150