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Textbook of Men's Health and Aging

2007 Edition, December 20, 2007

Complete Document



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ISBN: 978-0-203-08979-8
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2007 Edition, December 20, 2007
  • Published Date: December 20, 2007
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 750
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:

Foreword

In the "sleepwalkers" (1964) Arthur Koestler remarks that "I mistrust the word progress and much prefer the word evolution simply because progress, by definition, can never go wrong, whereas evolution constantly does and so does the evolution of the ideas. Indeed, it is fascinating to observe throughout history the evolution of quite a few "ruling" ideas , moving from gradual acceptance, to popularization, vulgarization, overextension, collapse and disappearance. At the height of their importance, some of them are so generally accepted, that they become the spirit of the time (the famous "Zeitgeist" in German) with all of its societal consequences, masterfully characterized by Virginia Woolf (1929) saying that "what is amusing now had to be taken in desperate earnest once". Other ideas may show a markedly different evolution; as Jean Monnet (1978) emphasized in his Mémoires, "When an idea corresponds to the necessity of an epoch , it ceases to belong to those who invented it and it becomes stronger than those who are in charge of it". In fact, such an idea may become stronger than political power by developing into the common property of humankind ; it may deeply influence the spiritual content of an entire era and may resist the historical forces of destruction for a long time. In a few, rare , cases a new idea becomes exceptionally strong, when – in addition – it is generated as a response to powerful historical challenges by some new realities. The ageing of populations presents such a challenge. It is a fundamentally new and unique problem in our history, with no previous analogies. Hence, people and their governments have not had yet enough time (and/or courage?) to consider the necessary - and in part fundamental – socioeconomical and political adjustments needed to meet one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, which will profoundly affect many aspects of our life, social institutions and perhaps even ethical values. The Population division of the United Nations Secretariat estimates that last year (2006) some 11% of the global population (688 million persons) were aged 60 years or more and 13% of these persons were aged 80 years and over. The sex ratio of those aged 60 and over was 82 men for 100 women and among those aged 80 years and more it was 55 men for 100 women. Life expectancy at the age of 60 was 17 years for men and 21 years for women. The Population division projects that by the year 2050 , 22% of the world population (or almost 2 billion people) will be aged 60 years and over and that 20% of these 2 billion persons will be aged 80 years or more. The United Nations also point out that, by the year 2050 – for the first time in our history – the population of persons older than 60 years will be larger than the population of children (0 to 14 years of age). Humankind is growing rapidly and it is ageing very rapidly... Fortunately, scientific knowledge is growing even more rapidly . In 1830, Alfred Tennyson still could say with some justification that "Science moves, but slowly slowly, creeping on from point to point ". However, by the mid-fiftees of the 20th century it was recognized, that science progresses in proportion to the mass of knowledge that is left to it by preceding generations, that is under the most ordinary circumstances in geometrical proportion (F.Engels, 1963). The same year Derek John de Solla Price has put this progress in a proper perspective: "Using any reasonable definition of a scientist, we can say that between 80 and 90 per cent of all scientists that have ever lived are alive now. Now depending on what one measures and how, the crude size of science in manpower or in publications tends to double within a period of 10 to 15 years". This was 44 years ago and nowadays it is often said that today the amount of new information tends to double every 6 to 7 years.... And when the amount of new information increases so rapidly, the perimeter between the known and unknown also increases and opens new avenues for fruitful investigation. If I am allowed to quote another forword written more than 400 years ago, in the Preface to De La Sagesse, Pierre Charron remarks that "La vraye science et le vray étude de l´homme c´est l´homme" (The true science and study of mankind is

man). This will particularly be true in the world of tomorrow, where the octagenarian populations will grow most rapidly of all groups and lot of new information will be required on their pathophysiology and optimal medical care.It is said, that Leonardo da Vinci was the last scientist in history, who still could grasp the entire body of knowledge of his epoch. I doubt very much that there exists any medical scientist today, who could claim to grasp all medical knowledge, or eventhat of any major discipline, the Study of the Ageing Male being no exception. It is sufficient to look at a few of the almost 60 excellent articles of the present textbook to be convinced. Science is organized knowledge, said Herbert Spencer; therefore, a textbook will always represent an important contribution to the body of contemporary knowledge, particularly, when it contains so many carefully selected articles, as the present textbook. In fact, when the perimeter between the known and unknown rapidly increases, it inevitably results in increasing specialisation and in the establishment of new disciplines. The establishment of a new discipline for the Study of the Ageing Male slightly more than a decade ago, was considered then by some medical scientists as a courageous innovation with a somewhat uncertain future. Few, if any of them would doubt today that this discipline has come to stay and for a long time, since more and more evidence is forthcoming to indicate that many aspects of ageing are gender specific, like the localisation of certain receptors in different tissues or the functions of the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, an in-depth study of the various aspects of gender specificity is likely to lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic methods for ageing populations. Therefore, as Shakespeare says "What is past is prologue". Last, but not least, I feel that the scientific community ought to be grateful to theeditors and contributors of this Textbook. Their effort should remind us that the acquisition, critical evaluation, systematisation and dissemination of positive knowledge are the only human activities which are truly cumulative and progressive (George Sarton, 1930, paraphrased).