Human Life May Have No Limit

Human Life May Have No Limit


Good news for those making plans for their 110th birthday: The human lifespan is perhaps far more robust than previously thought. The Guardian reports that new research disputes a high-profile claim last year that the human lifespan has maxed out at 114.9 years. In an extraordinary scientific feud, five research teams banded together to trash that conclusion, publishing their findings in the journal Nature, which is where the original study appeared. Author Jim Vaupel, a specialist in aging at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, tells the paper there’s no evidence for an upper limit on human longevity. And if there were, he adds, “it is above 120, perhaps much above—and perhaps there is not a limit at all.”

Vaupel calls the original study led by geneticist Jan Vijg of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York “the worst piece of research I’ve ever read” in Nature, adding that he was “outraged” that the journal would publish “such a travesty.” Vijg, who’s standing his ground, had used existing data to show that after a period of steadily rising longevity, humans appeared to hit a ceiling of 115 in the mid-’90s. But the new papers pooh-pooh the plateau prediction and, in a sci-fi twist, suggest humans could be blowing out 150 candles by the year 2300. Vijg suggests his nitpicky critics didn’t read his work properly, and perhaps have issues with their own mortality. “When you look at these super-old people, there are not many of them,” he says. “That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?”

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