Medical Advances: Benefits and Risks

June 23, 1958

Report Outline
Long-Range Hazards in Health Protection
Medical Advances and Medical Problems
Health Gains and Population Changes

Long-Range Hazards in Health Protection

Spectacular advances in medicine are contributing to the creation of stupendous problems for mankind, some more formidable than those that can be set down as solved. Each step forward in the battle against disease is apt to produce new difficulties to be overcome; certain of the most striking achievements may even bring new hazards to health. At all times man is faced with the possibility that as he gains relief from old diseases, he will be confronted by new diseases over which he has no present means of control.

By saving individual lives, the success of the attack on disease has greatly enlarged national populations and at the same time changed their composition, not always for the better. On the one hand, medical progress offers the boon of longevity; on the other it imposes on society the burden of supporting huge numbers of unproductive individuals—the aged, the sickly, the disabled in addition to the young. Explosive population growth, due largely to medical achievements, raises the threat of eventual food shortages and of ultimate exhaustion of needed materials.

Threat of Physical Deterioration of Mankind

A medical research scientist recently put an uncommonly grim shading on the world's medical prospects by suggesting that genetic deterioration of the human race may be the price to be paid for humane application of medical knowledge.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Biology and Life Sciences
Infectious Diseases
Medical Devices and Technology