Human Lifespan Will Rise Dramatically This Century, Researchers Say

Our ability to extend human lifespans is improving dramatically, but whether there is any natural limit to how far we can push is an outstanding question.

New research contradicts claims that we’re approaching a maximum human lifespan. While answering this question is likely to require a better understanding of the physiological process of aging, researchers have long tried to divine trends in demographic data that could give clues as to what the upper limit might be.

One study predicted that the human lifespan is unlikely to go past around 150 years no matter what medical innovations we come up with.

“In most of the countries we examined, we project that the maximum age will rise dramatically in the future,” David McCarthy from the University of Georgia told LiveScience.

While previous studies of this kind have often grouped people based on their year of death, the researchers instead lumped together people born in the same year.

In their paper in PLOS One, the researchers explained that if an upper limit on lifespan did exist, you would expect to see a compression in the distribution of age at death.

If fewer people are dying at younger ages, the rate of mortality at older ages would have to increase to compensate.

The authors suggest this sudden step change in lifespans could be due to the rapid improvements made in medicine and public health at the start of the 20th century.

It’s also important to remember that no matter what the demographic data shows, human lifespans will ultimately be governed by both their physiology and medical innovation.

There’s a growing revolution in the science of aging underway, and research is starting to show that there are a host of medical interventions that could slow or even reverse aging.

If the field lives up to its promises, we could be on the cusp of another step change in lifespans similar to the one the researchers predict for those born in the early 20th century.