New research shows humans could live decades longer than current record age of 122
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New research has shown humans could in fact live several decades longer than the current record age of 122. Scientists involved in the study have said they are “not even close” to reaching their maximum potential lifespan.
The new findings are based on an analysis of mortality rates dating back more than 3 centuries across 19 countries including the UK. Lead author of the study, Dr David McCarthy of Georgia University in the USA, has described the implications as "profound."
For most of recorded human history, the average life expectancy of our species has been between 20 and 40 years. That lifespan has doubled to around 80 years, mainly due to improvements in nutrition, clean water, better sanitation and the application of medical science.
Experts believe that further advancements in medicine, genetic manipulation and calorie restriction may extend life even further. The US team behind the research combined reasoning with probability - which is known as Bayesian theory - to work out potential maximum longevity.
The results showed mortality limits have only been postponed in recent years due to records being slow to increase. Dr McCarthy said: "We find cohorts born between around 1900 and 1950 are still too young to break longevity records.”
He continues: "As these cohorts attain advanced ages in coming decades, longevity records may therefore increase significantly. Our results confirm prior work suggesting that if there is a maximum limit to the human lifespan, we are not yet approaching it."
In 2021, a study found life expectancy has the capacity to almost double, to way beyond 150 years. The find was based on blood samples from thousands of Americans and Britons.
Dr McCarthy said: "Whether or not there is a limit to the human lifespan has been a subject of debate for millennia. Historical estimates of the maximum possible lifespan strongly suggest it has increased substantially over recorded history."
The Bible recorded the Hebrews as regarding 80 years as the maximum human lifespan. And around a 1,000 years later, the ancient Romans said the official estimate was 100 to 110.
But Dr McCarthy points out modern longevity records are higher still, with the current record of 122 set more than 25 years ago, in 1997. The world record is currently held by a French woman named Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 years and 164 days.
The oldest known currently living human is Maria Branyas of Spain, aged 116 years and 25 days. The oldest known living man is Juan Vicente Pérez of Venezuela, 3 years younger at aged 113 years and 306 days.
Dr Mccarthy adds: "We emphasise further that cohorts born before 1950 will only have the potential to break existing longevity records if policy choices continue to support the health and welfare of the elderly and the political, environmental and economic environment remains stable. The emergence of Covid-19 and its outsize effect on the mortality of the elderly provides a salutary warning that none of this is certain.
"If, however, the maximum age does increase as the current mortality experience of incomplete cohorts suggests is likely the implications for human societies, national economies and individual lives will be profound."