Aging is defined as an increase over time in the risk of death due to intrinsic causes. By this measure, aging has slowed over the past 150 years in most populations, particularly during the transition from an era of expensive calories and high rate of infection to an era of cheap calories and widespread use of effective antibiotics. A 60-year old today is far less impacted by aging and exhibits a far lower mortality risk than was the case for a 60-year old of two centuries past. To what degree is this late life outcome the result of improved nutrition versus a reduced burden of infection?
Given the importance of inflammation in aging, and the known impact of infectious disease on immune health over the long term, the consensus is that infection over a lifetime is more important than nutrition, even if the major contributing factor is persistent infection by just a few pathogens. Researchers here support that view by analyzing historical data from the Sardinian population that transitioned the era in which antibiotics were first introduced without also greatly changing their nutritional status. The results indicate that the use of antibiotics to control infectious disease produced a slowing of aging,
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