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Medical Predictions for 1999 (1955)

Dr. Lowry H. McDaniel of Tyronza, Ark., was a very optimistic doctor, though his ideas were certainly in line with medical futurists' thinking of that era. The June 9, 1955 Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV) lays out his vision of the year 1999, which includes a 150 year life span, a cancer vaccine, and the complete eradication of infectious disease. You can read his 10 predictions for the year 1999 below:

  1. A man 90 years old will be considered "young," a man of 135 "more mature" and there will be "a minimum of senility because the heavy cholesterol which determines the age of our arteries will be absent."
  2. "Our women, thanks to proper hormone medication, would stay young, beautiful and shapely indefinitely."
  3. The Salk killed-virus vaccine "which is doing a tremendous job now" will be replaced in a few years by a living modified virus vaccine.
  4. All human infectious disease, including rheumatic heart disease and venereal disease, will be eradicated.
  5. Cancer will be "successfully treated by a virus vaccine or radioactive compounds."
  6. The common cold and "even the more serious respiratory virus infections will be only a memory."
  7. "Even greater victories await the highly-trained surgeon" of the future. Eye surgeons will restore vision to today's hopeless cases.
  8. Synthetic foodstuff will bring an end forever to famine and starvation.
  9. Electronic devices will enable deaf mutes to "speak." Initial research is underway by the Radio Corporation of America.
  10. Insulin will be given in tablet form for the control of diabetes. Medical science will discover an "effective treatment" against the blood, heart and degenerative diseases of old age.


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Reader Comments (13)

Dr. McDaniel didn't think through his longevity forecast very well. We don't know if a 150 year life span can happen until someone lives for at least 150 years. Did McDaniel think that someone aged 106 in 1955, with all the health problems he or she already had, would make it to age 150 in 1999?

July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark Plus

#3 is half-right; a new polio vaccine was deployed in 1962, but it only supplemented the Salk vaccine; it didn't replace it.

#9 is slightly true; there are a few people who use machines to speak, like Stephen Hawking, but most deaf people still prefer to use sign language.

The other predictions range from too optimistic (oral insulin hasn't been developed, but people are still trying) to outright ludicrous (like the elimination of all disease).

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterazinyk

He's surprisingly accurate with a few of those points -- but mixed in with loony predictions like #2, I'm inclined to think that was entirely random luck on his part!

July 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErica

#6 is specially ironic when we are "worried" about the swine flu pandemic.

July 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

Hm, there's a few that are surprisingly accurate, here.

#3 I'm no expert on the polio vaccine that this is apparently discussing, but I've heard there have been some important breakthroughs in "designer viruses" being used to treat some diseases.

#5 is certainly close with "radioactive compounds", and we've certainly made significant progress in treating some cancers within the last 50 years. There's also the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.

#7 laser surgery can definitely help many people regain 20/20 vision, and they recently found treatment with stem cells to treat or possibly cure one of the more common forms of blindness.

#9 besides the voice boxes of Stephen Hawking as mentioned above, there's also been some experimenting with getting people to control computers and possibly typing words with mind alone, which I think counts towards the idea, even if the research is still going on.

Overall, though... these seem pretty farfetched ideas to occur in less than 50 years after the time of prediction. If he had set it 100 years in the future and said these would happen by 2050... well, he'd still probably be pretty far off, but given some of the progress we've made, I wouldn't say it's completely impossible (just highly unlikely.)

August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJabberwocky

As others hinted at, #3 did come true (sort of). Many modern vaccines use weakened but still living viruses.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAvinasharavind

Por que no:)

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteronline-maris

i do not know about these predictions because all prediction tell a new angle.

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermedical school

Here is a snapshot 5 years out. It is a bit more pragmatic. Watch the video

Worrell Envisions a Patient-Centered Future for Healthcare

The healthcare industry is uniquely complex because the consumer is segmented. The user, payer, and decision maker are usually three or more separate entities. For years device manufactures have been focused on the decision makers (physicians) and payers (government and insurance agencies) to develop and market their life saving products.

Worrell’s 35 years of experience designing medical products has made it clear that the missing piece in this broken system is patient engagement, so they decided to do something about it. Worrell brought together a cross-functional team of their designers and researchers, a thought-leading patient, and a front line physician to create a dialog to break down the information imbalance that exists in our current healthcare system. Documentarians were on hand to capture this dialog and the solutions that emerged to empower patients to have greater participation in managing their health.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin
October 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterder

I agree with your medical predictions. #5 Cancer will be successfully treated by a virus vaccine as scientists have been searching for its cures because it's one of the most dangerous disease and it's cure has to be find out. Hope it's cure will be find out by them.
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January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

#5 In an article from the National Institutes of Health, the Epstein-Barr virus vaccine may enter phase 3 trial. The vaccine may prevent infectious mononucleosis and EBV-associated cancers including Burkitt lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Who knows, decades from now some of her predictions will be a reality.


November 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

I was hoping to see the inclusion of obesity in his prediction. However, checking stats from the 1950's, obesity was not yet recognized as a disease! From 9.7 percent clinically obese during the 50s, 30.5 percent of Americans, which was almost one-third, were obese in 2000. Anyone want to make a medical prediction? buy xenical

November 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFlorence @ buy xenical

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