I am from France, and noticed recently that many people I know - friends, family - would have died young without today's medicine. Apparently, in 1900, life expectancy at birth (LEB) in France was about 50 years old. I didn't do the maths (I have little data and I cannot say for sure that disease X would have killed a patient a century ago) but 50 years old average seems high compared to my personal experience.
If today, in developed countries, we had to revert to using only 1900 medicine and surgery (we can discard the medical practices that were actually making things worse), with the same environment, would we live longer or shorter?
Some random ideas of what could make LEB increase apart from medicine:
- Environment is better (food is better and more available, hygiene)
- Better genes (mixing of populations..?)
- Social and technological progress (better working conditions)
What could make it decrease:
- Environment has degraded (unhealthy food and lifestyles, pollution?)
- Genes have degraded (?)