Saturday, October 8, 2016

Reaching The Limits Of Human Longevity

Old Age

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at 122, lived longer than any person in recorded history.
Photo Credit: AP
Source: STAT

An article, by Andrew Joseph and Natalia Bronshtein, in STAT magazine reports on a study that says we might be close to reaching the limits of human longevity. If this assertion is indeed valid, then it might be more prudent to allocate greater amount of research dollars on improving the quality of life to persons in their latter years rather than finding a way to increase human lifespans—whether through a mythical “fountain of youth”or a pill or finding a scientific medical way to regulate aging in humans.

For now, scientists say the limit of human life is 115 years; and the maximum possible lifespan is 125 years, notwithstanding an exception like Jeanne Calment of France, who lived to 122. Currently, there are eight verified living supercentenarians, the oldest of whom is an Italian woman, Emma Morano, who is older than 116 years. Again, these are exceptional persons in terms of human lifespans. 

They are likely to remain exceptions for some time. In “Humans can only live so long, and we’re nearing the limit, researchers say” (October 5, 2016), Joseph and Bronshtein write:
Even if scientists are able to slow some aspects of aging, they say, there are plenty more that can kill us.
“There’s no doubt that these intrinsic aging processes, they limit our lifespan,” said Jan Vijg, an author of the paper and a genetics and aging researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “There are so many genetic variants that could have a bad effect on you when you’re old. What are you going to do? Develop a drug for all of them?”
The record for longest known lifespan went to a Frenchwoman named Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at 122. Based on the analysis, the authors found that the global population would need to be 10,000 times bigger for someone to have a chance of reaching 126 years old in a given year.
As the thinking goes, with age comes the deterioration of cells, Both genetics and environment play a role in a long life, as may a combination of good choices and luck, the ratio indeterminate. Having a relative live a long life does not suggest that you will, or vice-versa. Once you survive childhood, the odds are fairly good that you will live into your eighties. And once you pass your 80s, there is a better chance of living to 100.

Humans are living longer, but not necessarily in better health. Cardiovascular diseases and cancer remain the leading cause of death in the United States and in Canada. The existential question is, as always, what kind of life is worth living. And how much does illness, especially if it is chronic, affect the willingness to live? How much does chronic pain? These are more than moot questions; the individual answers are important and tell us a little more about the nature of life and of living. The central question is what it means to live well. Such is the primary goal.

For more, go to [STAT]

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