Late at night, when you’re kept awake by fears of your own mortality, it can be comforting to imagine that science will one day advance to the point where you can live forever. Turns out, that’s a load of baloney, as scientists think that humans will never live longer than they do nowadays.
In other words, you’ll almost certainly be dead by the time you’re 115 — if you’re lucky.
A new study in Nature found evidence that there is indeed a limit to how long a person can live before old age invariably takes their life away. Dr. Jan Vijg and his team at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine examined data on survival and mortality going back over a century to calculate how fast the population grew at each age.
While life expectancy — how old the average person lives to be — continued to rise as medical techniques and scientific knowledge improved, the rate of elderly population growth didn’t progress the same way. Historically, the fastest-growing segment of society has been old people. In 1920s France, the 85-year-old age bracket was the fastest growing, and by the 1990s it was 102-year-olds.
However, that all stopped about 10 years ago after slowing down in the 1980s.
“It seems highly likely we have reached our ceiling,” Vijg told The New York Times.
In 1968, the oldest known person ever lived to be 111, and by the ‘90s people were living to be 115, but that’s where the longevity trend stopped. People were living longer, but the oldest people weren’t getting any older.
Jeanne Calment, who, when she died in 1997 at 122 years old, was the oldest person to ever live, is an extreme outlier. Using all the data and trends they’d discovered, Vijg calculated how likely it would be for somebody to best her longevity record.
“You’d need 10,000 worlds like ours to have the chance that there would be one human who would become 125 years,” Vijg told The Times.
For now, and possibly forever, 115 seems like the reasonable limit before we kick the bucket.
That just means the key is reducing the effects of aging so you don’t feel as old before you die.
Photos via 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures