How long will you live? It’s an unanswerable question, though a study published this week in Nature suggests that we’ve already reached the maximum possible human lifespan.
Not only have we reached the ceiling, but the study, conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, suggests that we’re pedaling backwards, that we reached our max-age potential back in the 1990s when a Frenchwoman named Jeanne Calment died at 122. Hers was the longest documented human lifespan in history.
Now, let’s remember that maximum human lifespan and life expectancy are two very different things. Life expectancy in the US has been on the rise for some time: from 47 years in 1900 to 79 today. That’s a positive indication that science and medicine are improving people’s lives, most notably by reducing early-life mortality.
A lot of experts have assumed that a similar expectation should apply to maximum human lifespan—late-life mortality. Surely it too must be on the rise. Not so, says the Nature report, titled “Evidence for a Limit to Human Lifespan.”
“The age with most rapid gains has increased over the century, but its rise has been slowing and it appears to have reached a plateau,” the report states, pointing toward “diminishing gains in reduction of late-life mortality and a possible limit to human lifespan.”
“Our results,” state the authors, “strongly suggest that human lifespan has a natural limit.”
And just what is that limit? Drumroll…115, say the researchers.
Gulp. Time to start ticking off the bucket list, eh
Actually, we at TMA don’t waste too many brain cells on this topic. 79? 115? 122? Does it really matter?
No, we contend. Because how long we will live is an unknowable mystery, no matter how the actuarial tables read.
The dreamers and doers of the anti-aging movement no doubt reject the notion of a ceiling to the human lifespan, and maybe someday they’ll manage to raise it.
But again: Does it really matter?
At The Masters Athlete, we’re all about making the most of the years—the minutes—we’re given. We accept them as a gift. Our bodies are a gift. Life is precious. We believe in honoring the gift of life by living a happy, healthy, productive life. We believe that smart exercise, reasonable diet, and a sanguine outlook are among the keys to that. However long we may live, we want to live it as vitally as possible.
We’ll let the realists at Albert Einstein and the idealists in the anti-aging movement duke it out. We’re gonna go for a ride.