Saturday, January 14, 2006

climates, extreme

The biological adaptation of humans to extreme climates was one of the earliest subjects to interest gerontological researchers. The pygmy population in hot, humid rain forests has been studied extensively, and no evidence of accelerated aging has been found. The Eskimos, who are exposed to extreme cold, do not appear to age any more rapidly than people who live under more moderate climatic conditions. High altitudes (above 10,000 feet) do not speed up the aging process, and, in fact, the incidence of high blood pressure and ischemic (lack of blood) heart disease is consistently lower among people living at high altitudes than those living at sea level. These findings suggest that aging is not caused by external environmental influences but may be programmed into the human and animal genetic structure.
See also AFRICAN PYGMY; ESKIMOS.
Brocklehurst, J. C. Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. New York: Churchhill Livingstone, 1985.

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