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Science. 2004 Sep 17;305(5691):1736-9.

Inflammatory exposure and historical changes in human life-spans.

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Andrus Gerontology Center and Departments of Biological Sciencesand of Sociology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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