Has human life hit the ceiling – University of Copenhagen

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28 June 2017

Has human lifespan hit the ceiling?

Lifespan

In a comment published in the scientific journal Nature, researchers from the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen assess that human lifespan will continue to increase.

The forecast of human longevity attracts great societal attention. More and more people are living up to very old age, and in 2016 Denmark has seen 1,143 of her citizens reach an age of 100 or over. Some researchers argue that this burst of longevity will not continue and instead we are now coming close to the upper limit of how old human beings can become.

No arguments for hitting the upper limit
In their commentary, Is there evidence for a limit to human lifespan? in the scientific journal Nature (29th of June 2017), researchers from the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen argue that it is unlikely that there is an upper limit to lifespan around 115 years. They use medal winners at the Olympic Games and World Championship from between 1960-2016 as example for their arguments:

“We cannot predict a halt in human achievements using records from the past neither to perform sports nor to survive. Humans are built to last, living conditions are improving significantly, mortality risks are going down at all ages and we will see current records of longevity being broken,” says Professor Rudi Westendorp from the Center for Health Aging and the Department of Public Health.

The biology of ageing does not indicate a maximum lifespan
Last year, in the scientific journal Nature Evidence for a limit to human lifespan, others concluded that there is an upper limit to lifespan at 115 years based on an analysis of the longest-living humans so far. The researchers performed complicated statistical analyses but their work leaves room for alternative explanations.

”When emphasizing the extreme cases, concentrating only on the odd man out, you may draw the wrong conclusion” reports Assistant Professor Maarten P. Rozing from the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Public Health.

“Biological speaking aging is a result of accumulating damage.  Every day we are becoming better in prevention and repair of these damages. We have never had the prospect to live that long in that good health. We should dare to embrace that opportunity," he continues.

The research in Center for Healthy Aging is funded by Nordea-fonden.

Contact:
Professor Rudi Westendorp
Center for Healthy Aging and Department of Public Health
M: (+45) 2296 3141
E-mail: Westendorp@sund.ku.dk

Assistant Professor Maarten P. Rozing
Center for Healthy Aging and Department of Public Health
M: 45 26 44 45 42
E-mail: mroz@sund.ku.dk