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A Historical Medical Lesson From 1904

A colleague of mine sent me this eye-opening and fascinating look at America just a century ago based on a series of one-line statistics shared during a history lecture at the University of California, Berkeley. You will be amazed how much and how little some things have changed.

Year 1904

The year is 1904. One hundred and one years ago. What a difference a century-plus makes!

Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1904:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost 4 cents a pound and less than 6 pounds per year were consumed per person on average in processed foods or drinks. (Today, the average consumes more than 30 times that much sugar -- some 183 pounds. That includes sugar and sweeteners not counted in U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers from imported products, as well as raw sweeteners brought in under Farm Bill radar, or other mechanisms.)

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

  • Pneumonia and influenza
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores.

According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." (Shocking!)

Check out the link below for the complete list.