Researchers say that the average life expectancy of humans cannot extend past 115 years of age.
If you were hoping that advances in science could help you live forever, stop reading now. This latest study says that humans cannot live much longer than the admittedly ripe old age of 115. You can read the full findings in the journal Nature.
Human life span has an upper limit, say researchers
The U.S.-based researchers looked into data on human longevity and now say that our average life span has almost maxed out. While more people will probably live to very old ages, it looks like the record won’t be extended far past the current point of 122 years old.
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“Further progress against infectious and chronic diseases may continue boosting average life expectancy, but not maximum life span,” said study senior author Jan Vijg, chair of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
Since the 19th century the average life expectancy of humans has risen thanks to better diet, healthcare and other factors. Today’s newborns in the United States can expect to reach the age of 79, compared to 47 for babies born in 1900.
Humans can’t live past 125 years old
A steady stream of new record holders have also emerged to take the title of the world’s oldest person. The record is held by Jeanne Calment, a French lady who lived to the age of 122.
The team led by Vijg looked at data from the Human Mortality Database, which includes information on deaths and population data from over 40 countries around the world. According to the researchers, the number of people who lived until old age has risen continuously since 1900.
At the same time they found that once people reached the age of 100, their survival from that date on has not changed very much. The age of death did increase slightly from the 1970s to the 1990s, but since then it has reportedly leveled out slightly.
The scientists conclude that current data suggests that the average maximum human life span is 115 years, while the upper limit of our life span will be 125 years.
Is the study too simplistic?
However others have argued that the conclusion is too simplistic. Jessica Hall of Extreme Tech argues that there is a third factor that isn’t taken into account in the study.
Hall says that advances in gene science could lead to a better understanding of the human genome, and provide an opportunity for people to live past 125 years old. The problem is that at the moment our understanding of genetics is still relatively unsophisticated, but it could become more developed in the future.
While Vijg says that humans have an upper life expectancy that is set in stone, Hall believes that this upper limit could be changed if we understand out genes better. However the pair do agree on one important point.
That is to say that it is more important to extend the human health span than the human life span. This is the idea that having more years on the planet is not desirable unless they can be healthy and enjoyable.
The argument goes that we should aim to increase the length of time that we can keep people healthy, rather than the amount of time we can keep them alive but slowly disintegrating. While this may come down to a personal preference up to a certain point, it seems unlikely that anyone would sign up to living to 150 years old but unable to enjoy life.