How Long Can Somebody Live? The 21st Century Might Be Breaking All Records

The total number of people who lived more than 100 years of age has been rising for decades, up to nearly half a million people globally. Though, there are not many “supercentenarians” who live to age 110 or beyond.  

Jeanne Calment in France was said to be the oldest living person, aged 122, when she died in 1997. At present, the world’s oldest person alive is 118-year-old Kane Tanaka of Japan.

According to new research by the University of Washington, this great longevity will increase even more by the end of the 21st century. Estimates indicate that a lifespan of 125 years or even 130 years would be possible in the coming centuries.

“People are fascinated by the extremes of humanity, whether it’s going to the moon, how fast someone can run in the Olympics, or even how long someone can live,” said lead author Michael Pearce, a UW doctoral student in statistics. “With this work, we quantify how likely we believe it is that some individual will reach various extreme ages this century.”

Longevity comes with consequences both for the government and individuals. It affects economic policies, as well as peoples’ own health, life decisions and much more.

Demographic Research, a new study published, utilizes statistical modelling to analyze acute human life conditions. Keeping the current research relating to ageing and the fairly small number of people to have reached at the age of 110 or beyond, experts have argued the maximum age limit at the time of death. However, some scientists tend to argue that there are other factors like cell deterioration and diseases involved that limit human longevity. While some believe there’s no limit to human life span, and is clearly proved by supercentenarians.

Pearce and Adrian Raftery, two professors at the UW, has a different take on this. They asked a simple question that what could be the longest individual human lifespan anywhere in the world by the year 2100.

To evaluate the probability, the UW team used the latest version of the International Database on Longevity, created by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. The database helps to track supercentenarians from 10 European countries, plus Canada, Japan and the United States. They formed projections for the maximum stated age at death in all 13 countries from 2020 through 2100.

Using Bayesian statistics, a statistical tool, they found out that the world record of 122 years will be broken, with a probability of at least one person living anywhere between 125 and 132 years.

As of now, the likelihood of breaking the current age record would increase only if the number of supercentenarians grows drastically. However, with a frequently expanding global population, that’s not impossible, according to researchers.

“People who achieve extreme longevity are still rare enough that they represent a select population,” Raftery said. Although with health advancements and significant population growth, there is a flattening of mortality rate after a certain age limit.

“It doesn’t matter how old they are, once they reach 110, they still die at the same rate,” Raftery said. “They’ve gotten past all the various things life throws at you, such as disease. They die for reasons that are somewhat independent of what affects younger people.

“This is a very select group of very robust people.”

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