This century's march of increasing life expectancy has almost reached an end, at least in the developed countries. Better nutrition, medical care, public health facilities, and accident prevention have helped boost life expectancy at birth from 47.9 years in 1900 to 69.2 years in the mid-1950s and then, more slowly, to 74.9 years in 1989.

But conventional billion-dollar disease research to further decrease premature deaths is becoming progressively more futile, thanks to limits imposed not by disease, but by the mysterious, inexorable, universal, and subtle phenomenon we call aging. The accelerating nature of the aging process has been revealed by improvements in our living conditions, which have decreased young people's chances of death more than they have decreased their elders'. In fact, the chance of death now increases almost exponentially after about age 28, in accordance with the aging process. The effects of environment and disease become greater with advancing...

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