Hu­mans may al­ready have reached max­i­mum life­span

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

PARIS: No one might ever chal­lenge the 122-year record of the long­est-liv­ing per­son in doc­u­mented his­tory, said a study on Wed­nes­day which claimed to have found a “ceil­ing” to max­i­mum hu­man life­span.

Sift­ing through de­mo­graphic data from more than 40 coun­tries around the world, New York-based re­searchers found that an end to the long-run­ning rise in max­i­mum life­span “has al­ready been at­tained”, in the 1990s.

The plateau was reached in about 1997 – the year that French­woman Jeanne Cal­ment died at the un­beaten age of 122 years and 164 days.

“The trend since then has been for the old­est per­son in the world to be around 115 years old,” study co-author Bran­don Mil­hol­land of the Al­bert Ein­stein Col­lege of Medicine said.

This was de­spite av­er­age life ex­pectancy con­tin­u­ing to in­crease as med­i­cal care, nu­tri­tion and liv­ing con­di­tions im­proved.

In other words, more peo­ple are liv­ing into old age these days, but ex­cep­tion­ally long-lived in­di­vid­u­als were not get­ting quite as old as be­fore.

“We pre­dict this (trend) will re­main sta­ble for the fore­see­able fu­ture. It is pos­si­ble some­one might live slightly longer (than 115) but the odds of any­body in the world sur­viv­ing to 125 in any given year is less than one in 10,000,” Mil­hol­land said.

This could all be changed, of course, by a ma­jor med­i­cal or tech­no­log­i­cal break­through – the long-sought elixir of life.

“We can’t elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity of a break­through that will fur­ther ex­tend life­span, but it would have to be un­like any­thing seen be­fore,” Mil­hol­land said.

“The med­i­cal ad­vances of the past few decades may have in­creased life ex­pectancy and qual­ity of life, but they have not done any­thing to in­crease the max­i­mum life­span.”

Life­span is the term used to de­scribe how long an in­di­vid­ual lives, while max­i­mum life­span is the age reached by the long­est-lived mem­ber of a species.

Life ex­pectancy is the av­er­age du­ra­tion of life that in­di­vid­u­als in an age group can ex­pect to have – a mea­sure of so­ci­etal well­be­ing. – AFP

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