Dr. Vijg and his team published a study that says people will not be able to get older than 115 years old due to genetic variants that determine human’s lifespan. The data shows that the eldest humans in the world have reached an average of 110 years old except for Jeanne Calment, who passed at the age of 122. According to the study, the chances of a human living more than 115 years old are 1 in 10 thousand.
People have been living longer in the past few decades thanks to better life conditions and medical advances. Nevertheless, scientists have found that even with new medicines and procedures, humans can only live to their 110s.
Dr. Jan Vijg and his graduate students Xiao Dong, P.h.D. and Brandon Milholland, P.H.D., reported their findings on human longevity Wednesday in the journal Nature. Dr. Vijg is an expert on aging at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and said it is “highly likely” that humankind reached its “ceiling,” referring to a limit of age. “From now on, this is it. Humans will never get older than 115.”
The research discovered that people attain their lifespan since the 1990s. And, even when life expectancy has increased, the human body aging process has been the same, and it cannot survive more than 115 years. Vijg stated that demographers, as well as biologists, agree that there is no reason to believe that the increase of the lifespan for people will continue in the future.
To get to these conclusions, Dr. Vijg, and his colleagues analyzed data from the Human Mortality Database, which contains mortality and population information from more than 40 countries.
The team studied how many people of different ages were alive in a period and then compared it from year to year. The research then determined how fast the population grew each year. Since the 1990s, late-life mortality decline, life-expectancy increased, but people could not reach more than 100 years old.
The information pointed that the fastest-growing portion of society has been senior citizens. To illustrate the premise, in France in the1920s, the fastest-growing group of women was the 85-year-olds.
And as life expectancy increased, the fastest growing group of humans was found in older ages. To continue with the first example: by the 1990s, the fastest-growing group of French women was the 102-year-olds. But then, the trend stopped. If it had continued, the next fastest-growing group would have been the 110-year-olds.
After finding that people did not survive more than 110 years, researcher focus on survival improvements since 1990 for people aged 100 or less. They found that more people were aging more than 100 years. But after reaching that age, the mortality rate increased rapidly. According to Dr. Vijg, the data indicates “a possible limit to human lifespan.”
Human Mortality Database and the International Database on Longevity
The study continued and also analyzed the International Database on Longevity to see the maximum reported age of death around the world. The database contains detailed reports on 534 people who have lived to unexpected long age. When looking through the information, they limited the research from 1968 and 2006 in four countries: The U.S., France, Japan, and the U.K.
The team focus on people verified to have lived to age 110 or older and discovered that the supercentenarians died in a rapid pace between the 1970s and early 1990s. After that, the data shows that human lifespan reached a ceiling after 1997, the year when 122-year old French woman Jeanne Calment died.
Dr. Vijg and his colleagues used the maximum-reported-age-at-death data to calculate the average human lifespan and concluded it was 115 years old. Regarding Jeanne Calment, they said she was a statistical outlier. Researchers also calculated the odds to see a person live to 125 in the world. The probability is less than 1 in 10 thousand.
“You’d need 10 thousand worlds like ours to have the chance that there would be one human who would become 125 years,” Dr. Vijg said.
Vijg is a professor at the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics, at Einstein, and from his previous work, aging is something we have in our DNA. The accumulation of damaged cells is inevitable, even if there are processes to slowed down the damage. In the end, it is too much to recycle.
What Dr. Vijg recommends is not to prolong our lifespan but to lengthen healthy living. It is more important to live as many years as possible as a healthy human being rather than become 125 years old on a bed. Vijg said there is a good chance to improve health span changing our habits and the innovation of new treatments.
Some doctors argued that human life has no lifespan
Human life span is a long-debated subject, especially after the significant increase in average life expectancy. But Dr. Vaupel and others disagree with Vijg’s average human lifespan.
Vaupel is the director of the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging and has always opposed to the idea of an age limit for people.
“It is disheartening how many times the same mistake can be made in science and published in respectable journals,” he said.
He added that in some countries, like Japan, life expectancy continues to grow -today a Japanese baby can become 83 years old- and their fastest-grow group continues to be older.