In 1987, John Rowe and Robert Kahn, writing in Science (Rowe and Kahn, 1987), acknowledged that "a revolutionary increase in lifespan," had already occurred. The next step in gerontology, they concluded, was increased "health span," reportedly using this term for the first time in written history, "the maintenance of full function as nearly as possible to the end of life."
Almost 500 years before Rowe and Kahn were calling for the quality-of-life elixir Alvise "Luigi" Cornaro believed he had bottled the brew.
As a young and wealthy Venetian merchant, Cornaro liked to party. It apparently took a toll. In his thirties, suffering from a "train of infirmities," as he put it, Luigi sought medical attention. The prescription from his physicians? A "sober and regular life." Basically, they told him to go on a diet. Eat less. Perhaps not surprisingly, he had already been given this advice from the authorities. Equally unsurprising, Cornaro "could not put up with it." But after getting ba...
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