Medical Mystery

When it comes to medical mysteries, they don’t usually invoke good news. Often, we’re perplexed by a difficult problem or a sickness that can’t be explained or beaten.

Today, there is at least one medical mystery taking place in some of the world’s wealthier nations that is good news for aging populations – rates of many age-related illnesses are dropping inexplicably.

For several years, age-related ailments including colon cancer, dementia, heart disease and even hip fractures have been on the decline and though we have some theories in each case, we don’t have a clear indication of why.

To be sure, these conditions are still serious and remain some of the leading health issues for aging people.

Heart disease is a good example – it has been a leading cause of death for many years but for the past few decades, death from heart disease has been on the decline. This could be partly due to advances in medicine- better treatment and prevention- as well as lower rates of smoking. Still, researchers say these alone are not enough to explain the decades of decline.

Dementia rates are also falling. On recent report notes a 20 percent decrease per decade since 1977. This is hard to believe when we see the actual numbers of people with dementia increasing – however, in countries like Canada and the US, we have more older people every year and people are living longer. So while there may be more cases of people with dementia, the chance of getting it is actually decreasing.

As with heart disease, there are some explainable factors that could be contributing to the decreased rate – better control of high blood pressure and cholesterol and a more educated population could be part of it, but don’t fully explain it.

When we look through the list of ailments that seem to be decreasing, we find similar explanations. Our advances in medical knowledge and lifestyle changes are not enough to account for the rate of decline.

We see rates of many diseases dropping and even the rate of ‘all-cause mortality’ lumping many chronic diseases is going down. In every case, the ailments are linked to aging.

Now, scientists believe something could be changing within the aging cells themselves. It could be the cellular process of aging could be changing in our favour. This hypothesis will require further study and so far remains one of the few happy medical mysteries.


Current Studies

 Alzheimer's Disease 


 Parkinson's Disease





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