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Science  20 Feb 1942:
Vol. 95, Issue 2460, pp. 183-186
DOI: 10.1126/science.95.2460.183


The increase in death rate with increasing age over that at the age of ten accounts for over a million deaths each year in the United States. To what extent these deaths are due to the aging process remains to be determined, but the progressive loss of resistance to nearly all diseases appears to play a large role even in youth and middle life. Since loss of resistance to disease, as well as loss of ability, seems to result from an underlying aging process we may look upon aging as constituting our greatest medical problem.

Second in importance to the aging problem is that of the vascular and renal diseases, since these are involved in nearly 50 per cent. of the deaths after the age of ten (in addition to the effect of aging).

Until more is known about aging and vascular diseases we are not justified in predicting what can or can not be done about them. A new experimental method in which healthy animals of different ages are killed by a known measurable cause offers possibilities for determining the nature of the aging process.

Our two outstanding medical problems are being neglected largely because of the lack of funds to support both the long-term research and the raising of old animals needed for adequate investigation in this field. New endowments as well as changes in the policies of existing foundations are urgently needed.