How Long Can Humans Live?

On average, people live longer, but the very oldest among us have not gotten older over the last thirty years.On average, people live longer, but the very oldest among us have not gotten older over the last thirty years.

Dutch researchers claim to have discovered the maximum age “ceiling” for human lifespan, despite growing life expectancy because of better nutrition, living conditions and medical care.

Mining data from some 75,000 Dutch people whose exact ages were recorded at the time of death, statisticians at Tilburg and Rotterdam’s Erasmus universities pinned the maximum ceiling for female lifespan at 115.7 years, AFP reported.

Men came in slightly lower at 114.1 years in the samples taken from the data which spans the last 30 years, said Professor John Einmahl, one of three scientists conducting the study.

“On average, people live longer, but the very oldest among us have not gotten older over the last thirty years,” Einmahl told AFP.

“There is certainly some kind of a wall here. Of course the average life expectancy has increased,” he said, pointing out that the number of people turning 95 in the Netherlands had almost tripled.

“Nevertheless, the maximum ceiling itself hasn’t changed,” he said.

 “Lifespan” is the term used to describe how long an individual lives, while life expectancy is the average duration of life that individuals in an age group can expect to have – a measure of societal wellbeing.

The Dutch findings come in the wake of those by US-based researchers who last year claimed a similar age ceiling, but who added that exceptionally long-lived individuals were not getting as old as before.

Einmahl and his researchers disputed the latter finding, saying their conclusions deduced by using a statistical brand called “Extreme Value Theory”, showed almost no fluctuation in maximum lifespan.

Einmahl said however there are still some people who had bent the norm, like Frenchwomen Jeanne Calment who died at the ripe old age of 122 years and 164 days.

Calment remains the oldest verified woman to date.

Extreme Value Theory is a brand of statistics that measures data and answers questions at extreme ends of events such as lifespan or disasters.

Einmahl said his group’s findings will be submitted for publication in a peer review magazine “within the next month or so.”

The science of extending human life has become very popular recently, especially with more experts considering aging to be a disease that can and should be cured. Many of the advances in this field involve work in biotechnology and genetic research.

Other efforts include the development of some medicine that could help fight age-related disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s. Some of these pills are making headway into clinical trials, while most have proven to effectively remove signs of old age in lab tests with mice. One laboratory is even relying on artificial intelligence to fast-track their anti-aging drug development.

With all these efforts, it may not be long before we finally stumble upon that modern “fountain of youth.” It’s worth keeping in mind what one researcher said: Yes, we’ll probably extend human life but “if you hear the word immortality, just run. There is no drug that can give you that.”

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