It is sometimes helpful to look back at recent history in order to see just how far we have come in terms of progress in medicine, wealth, and health. Ours is an era of rapid, profound change in technology and its capabilities, and that is very apparent in mortality statistics, such as the charts provided in the article noted here. The numbers change dramatically every few decades, the result of the scientific and medical communities turning their attention to the most pressing issues of their time, generation after generation.
The past century is a story of success due to advancing medical technology on the one hand and the will, wealth, and understanding to address environmental causes of mortality on the other. Yet at the same time improvements in wealth, comfort, and longevity created new forms of bad lifestyle choice and new challenges in health. Over the course of the 20th century, infectious diseases gave way to lifestyle diseases and age-related diseases. As ever more people had the opportunity to live longer, the medical conditions of old age increased as a cause of mortality – and then the medical community turned to address those newly prominent causes
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