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Life expectancy has climbed century after century, but a recent study suggests it may no longer be possible to extend the human lifespan beyond what’s been achieved.
Changes in diet, medicine and the environment brought dramatic increases to life expectancy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
On average, babies born in 1900 could expect to live to 47. Babies born today can expect to live to 79.
The study found that from the 1970s to the 1990s, the maximum duration of life — as measured by the age of the oldest
humans — increased rapidly. But the research also suggests that humans may have already hit the life-span ceiling — about 115 years — around 1995.
Breakthroughs in medicine may boost average life expectancy, but not maximum lifespan, the scientists concluded.
“Perhaps resources now being spent to increase life span should instead go to lengthening healthspan — the duration of
old age spent in good health,” said Dr. Jan Vijg, a lead researcher on the project.
The research team from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine analyzed the Human Mortality Database and
the International Database on Longevity. They published their findings in the journal Nature.