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C. The Rise of The Aging Population

Narrator: This is Science Today. A basic theory in aging is that if you can get a young population to live beyond their first year of life, this population should be able to grow old. University of California at Davis researcher, Roger McDonald says the decrease in infant mortality is what's behind the growing elderly population.

McDonald: Around 1900 we began to understand that if we could get women to hospitals, if we get babies born to hospitals, we could prevent a lot of death.

Narrator: McDonald admits medical advances have also contributed to longer life expectancy and because of that, there's no telling what the future may hold.

McDonald: Just simply because we don't know what's going to happen in the next ten years. It's very likely that we come up with the cure for cancer in the next ten years. It's very likely that we are able to reproduce organs by cloning techniques. So if that happens, we're going to have a whole new way of looking at how many older people we're going to have. So, we can make these projections but they have to be used very cautiously, especially in the health area because we just have no idea what technology is going to do within the next ten years.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.