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No Known Cap on Human Life Expectancy

First Posted: Jun 30, 2017 08:41 AM EDT
Jeanne Calment

(Photo : Crixulescu at Flickr)

It's not surprising that if you thought when meeting someone over the age of 100, "They are close to the maximum age that any human could possibly reach."

Glad you didn't say that out loud, because according to researchers at McGill University, there is no limit.

The researchers analyzed the oldest individuals in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Japan every year beginning in 1968. The results were published in Nature

"We just don't know what the age limit might be," said Siegfried Hekimi, co-author of the study. "In fact, by extending trend lines, we can show that maximum and average lifespans could continue to increase far into the foreseeable future."

Imagine the current oldest person in the world being born now with modern medicine, technological advances, and people living longer in general. "People who are dying now at 117, their early life was not as easy as that. Wait until we have our entire life as easy as it is now," says Hekimi.

The view that there is no cap goes against scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. They believe there is a cap and that cap is placed on top of 115. "In the absence of solid statistical underpinning of various possible future scenarios, we feel that our interpretation of the data as pointing towards a limit to the human lifespan of about 115 years remains valid," says Xiao Dong, a scientist at Einstein.

But, researchers at McGill seem to be on to something. Their conclusions make sense, particularly that there is no definitive age expectancy for humans. "It's hard to guess," Hekimi says. "Three hundred years ago, many people lived only short lives. If we would have told them that one day most humans might live up to 100, they would have said we were crazy."

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