Research is revealing that the human life span might be a lot longer than we’ve believed until now, and is perhaps without limit.
Scientists noticed that as a person lives past 100, his/her risk for death slows, and even plateaus, especially above age 105. This notion challenges the previous belief that life has a cutoff point past which human life cannot get beyond.
People who manage to get past their 70s, 80s, and 90s could potentially live well into their 110s, as long as they stay lucky. The main proponent of this new approach is Kenneth Wachter, professor of demography and statistics at the University of California at Berkeley.
“Our data tell us that there is no fixed limit to the human life span yet in sight,” Wachter said. “Very few of us are going to reach those kinds of ages, but the fact that mortality rates are not getting worse forever and ever tells us there may well be more progress to be made improving survival past the ages of 80 to 90. This is a valuable, encouraging discovery.”
Wachter’s study showed that people who live to 110 had the same continued chances of survival as those between the ages of 105 to 109. Those chances were 50/50 that death would occur within the following year for both groups. Both groups had a further lifespan expectancy of 1.5 years.
This age plateau the extreme elderly are reaching is different than what is seen in younger people. Life expectancy decreases each year a person reaches beyond 40.
“If mortality rates kept rising at the rates they rise from age 40 to age 90, then there would be a strong barrier to progress at extreme ages — great diminishing returns to behavioral change or to new medical advances,” Wachter said. “The fact these rates ultimately level out gives hope there’s more leeway for those advances.”
The oldest human so far recorded was French citizen Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 and lived to by 122.