The shocking truth about death and dying

The shocking truth about death and dying

A new study suggests that we may have reached a ceiling as a species on our maximum age.

Bad news for anyone hoping to achieve immortality, or at least live a lot longer than people do today: mankind may have hit a ceiling on age. A new study claims that human beings have a maximum lifespan of about 115 years, which remains unchanged even as life expectancy continues to increase — and that isn’t likely to change, researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Nature, relies on statistics to come to that conclusion. The record for oldest age is Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122 in 1997.

The research team examined global databases on lifespan, finding that it peaks at 100 and then plummets, with the absolute limit being 115, or 125 if you are able to account for every single possible outlier.

Basically, improvements in survival with age start declining at 100, the study shows. It also indicates that the age at death of the world’s oldest person hasn’t really increased since the 1990s, suggesting we may have hit our ceiling as a species.

“Demographers as well as biologists have contended there is no reason to think that the ongoing increase in maximum lifespan will end soon,” said senior author Jan Vijg, Ph.D., professor and chair of genetics, the Lola and Saul Kramer Chair in Molecular Genetics, and professor of ophthalmology & visual sciences at Einstein. “But our data strongly suggest that it has already been attained and that this happened in the 1990s.”

“Further progress against infectious and chronic diseases may continue boosting average life expectancy, but not maximum lifespan,” said Dr. Vijg. “While it’s conceivable that therapeutic breakthroughs might extend human longevity beyond the limits we’ve calculated, such advances would need to overwhelm the many genetic variants that appear to collectively determine the human lifespan. Perhaps resources now being spent to increase lifespan should instead go to lengthening healthspan–the duration of old age spent in good health.”

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