Fast Long & Prosper
Todd T. Daly on Christian Asceticism & the Misguided Quest for Longevity
Most of us won’t be as fortunate as Madame Jeanne Calment, who lived to the age of 122. Somewhat of a local celebrity in her hometown of Arles, France, Ms. Calment was still bicycling in her early hundreds, consuming roughly two pounds of chocolate a week, and smoking two cigarettes per day (a habit she finally dropped at age 120). When asked about the secret of her long life, she attributed it to port wine and olive oil.
Ms. Calment’s life is one exceptional instance of a general trend of increasing life expectancies. Indeed, life expectancies in the twentieth century almost doubled, due primarily to the effective treatment of diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox, a reduction in infant mortality, and a general improvement in sanitary conditions.
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