A Means to an End: The Biological Basis of Aging and Death

By William R. Clark | Go to book overview

7
Replicative Immortality
Cancer and Aging

Although by no means restricted to the old, cancer is a disease we ordinarily associate with aging and senescence, and to a large extent this correlation is valid. For males over thirty in the United States, cancer is second only to heart attack as a cause of death in all age groups. Cancer is actually the leading disease cause of death in women between forty and sixty, but once past menopause, the incidence of cardiovascular disease increases in women, and heart attacks then exceed cancer as a cause of death in both sexes. As an ageassociated idiopathic disease, cancer is very much a part of the normal process of senescence. Unquestionably, as advances in medicine and public health in this century have increased average lifespan, the proportion of deaths from cancer has increased. This is not because the frequency of cancer has increased in the population, but because other causes of death (obviously excluding cardiovascular disease) have been brought under control, unmasking an underlying association of cancer

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