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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 27, 2004


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2004;292(16):2027. doi:10.1001/jama.292.16.2027-c

The secular press is at present, or has been recently, considerably taken up with discussions of methods of obtaining longevity, and one little item which has the alleged authority of Professor Metchnikoff has been widely copied. It is that sour milk as a diet is specially conducive to longevity, more so, in fact, than any other form of food. It is the common drink among the Bulgarians, and they are said to furnish the largest number of centenarians. Some one has suggested that it is the ignorant and indolent who live to a good old age; it is at least exceptional to find a man of science like Chevreul or persons of cultivation or those taking an active part in the life of the age reaching one hundred years or over. Extreme simplicity in the mode of life is conducive to longevity. If a person should follow all the advice given, assuming that all be good, and live under the strenuous conditions of modern civilization, he might increase the chances of living one hundred years by a minute percentage above the present figure of one chance in one hundred thousand. Inasmuch as the conditions usually suggested involve some inconveniences and self-denials—as, for instance, living on sour milk—most individuals would probably not think the game worth the candle. At present, and probably for a long time in the future, the continuance of life to one hundred years or over is a happy—or shall we say an unhappy—accident, and being a centenarian, with its physical infirmities, is at best a mighty lonesome condition.