Today’s old people are likely to break longevity records • The Register
Experts working on a mathematical model to predict future human lifespans say longevity records could be broken by 2060 — and the sky’s the limit from there. They believe we haven’t even reached the upper limit of how long a well-groomed person can live.
Those born between 1910 and 1950 – the next cohort to reach “old age” – have the potential to add a decade to the “human mortality plateau”. This is the point at which life expectancy usually levels off, professors David McCarthy and Po-Lin Wang write in their article.
What’s interesting is that the study looked at mortality dates from 1700 to the present day and found that the plateau was relatively flat over that period. That’s a very long time without the maximum lifetime changing significantly.
Because this plateau has been stable for so long, the researchers (a pair of risk management and insurance professors from the University of Georgia and the University of South Florida) suggest that the evidence at first glance suggests there’s a hard limit to human lifespan gives. Under this assumption, improvements in mortality rates are largely due to a phenomenon known as “mortality compression”, which prevents premature death.
But they note that there are two historical periods when the plateau has risen. The first, which arose in the second half of the 19th century, caused the plateau to jump by about five years. Researchers speculate that this could be related to a wave of improvements in public health and medical technology — like the acceptance of the germ theory and the widespread adoption of vaccines.
We are now experiencing the second ascension – particularly those of us born between 1910 and 1950 who have also seen leaps in health technology and understanding. This, the two write, suggests that we are not just compressing mortality, we are shifting it entirely. They speculate that the actual biological limit of the human body has not yet been reached.
“The timing of these episodes of the mortality shift explains why longevity records have been rising so slowly in recent years – cohorts old enough to break longevity records were too old to experience the current burst of shift,” opine Researchers.
Sorry Americans – we’re being left out
The two note in their article that the mortality shift—their term for not just compressing the human lifespan candlestick chart, but increasing the range entirely—can vary widely. Depending on the model assumptions, it actually does – after all, it is prediction work.
It’s also not a sure thing.
“Cohorts born before 1950 have the potential to break existing longevity records only if policy decisions continue to support the health and well-being of older people and if the political, environmental, and economic environment remains stable,” the researchers conclude.
For US citizens, the signs are already pointing to the fact that this is not the case. Late last year, US health officials said that life expectancy in this country has fallen for the second year in a row – it now stands at just 76.1 years.
Other countries have seen a rebound since the number of deaths from COVID-19 slowed. There could be many reasons for the lower life expectancy and rising maternal and infant mortality rates in the United States.
In Japan — where McCarthy and Wang observe that women are at the forefront of human longevity — life expectancy has risen from pre-pandemic levels to 84.5 years. In the UK, averages are still below pre-COVID-19 levels but have risen slightly to 80.8 years since last year. ®
https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2023/03/31/age_longevity_records/ Today’s old people are likely to break longevity records • The Register