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JAMA 100 Years Ago
September 22/29, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(12):1501. doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1501

Among the still obscure physiologic problems must be reckoned those relating to the mechanism regulating growth and decay. While we are in possession of isolated scraps of knowledge which shed an occasional glimmer of light on the subject, our knowledge can only be described as fragmentary. The studies of the last few years on acromegaly and giantism indicate that the pituitary body has some influence on development, though just what this influence is remains obscure. In some cases of dwarfism, too, this gland has been found diseased. In some forms of dwarfism again the thyroid seems to play a part, as is the case in cretinism and allied conditions. Then, again, certain glands seem to bear a relation to certain systems rather than to the body as a whole, an example of this being the curious relation which exists between excessive or premature development of the genitalia and some of the diseases of the adrenal glands. The question as to the factors which delay or accelerate decay, though less frequently studied, is equally as important as that relating to growth. Why is it that in individuals of the same age some are so much older and some so much younger, so far as their tissues and intellect are concerned, than the average individual of that age? Why is it that in the same individual one organ, or group of organs, may be older or younger than the rest of the body structures? To use the term originated by Sir James Paget, what is it that regulates the "chronometry of life"?

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