How long can humans live? Thanks to modern medicine we are living longer than ever before, but ageing experts believe we have reached maximum human longevity.
In 1997, a woman named Jeanne Calment passed away in her nursing home in France. She was 122 years old. Born before the construction of the Eiffel Tower, Ms Calment’s passing set the record for the longest recorded life in history. But, according to Jan Vijg, an ageing expert at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US, this is unlikely ever to happen again.
Looking at human life expectancy over the years, a person born in Australia in 1880 had an average lifespan of 50 years, while today that figure is 82 years.
“From now on, this is it. Humans will never get older than 115,” says Dr Vijg who, along with some graduate students, recently published a study, which debated whether or not there’s a natural barrier to the human lifespan.
The researchers claimed that while it is possible that a rare few people may live longer than the 115-year threshold, the odds are extremely low. The odds that anyone will ever outlive Ms Calment are “less than one in 10,000”.
Dr Vijg isn’t the only researcher investigating human longevity. Professor Dame Linda Partridge, the director of the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing in the UK, said a threshold for human lifespans “logically has to exist”.
However, some researchers disagree with the 115-year age limit. Professor James Vaupel, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany is one such individual. He called Dr Vijg’s study a “travesty” and said that time and time again, scientists have been proven wrong on lifespan predictions.
Should we be trying to live longer and longer? According to Dr Vijg, our best hope isn’t to extend our lifespans but to extend our years of healthy living through medical research.
Read more at nytimes.com.