BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: life expectancy

90 and Counting…

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Woman#/media/File:Tribes_woman_with_ear_piercing.jpg

Life expectancy is continuously rising, and is expected to rise immensely in various countries around the world. The U.S however, is not increasing as drastically.

A recent study was done to predict the average life expectancy for 35 countries in the year 2030. The greatest increases were seen in females born in South Korea and males born in Hungary. The smallest increases were people born in Macedonia.

South Korean females are expected to live 6.6 years longer than they would have if they were born in 2010. Their life expectancy is 90.8 years old. WOW!

France had the second highest life expectancy for females, with 88.6 years.

Japan came in third with a predicted life expectancy of 88.4 years, not too far behind France.

The reason this news is so shocking is because scientists once believed that it would be impossible to have a life expectancy exceed 90 years, but South Korea has surpassed it. This barrier will be broken.

Professor Magid Ezzati said, “I don’t believe we’re anywhere near the upper limit of expectancy – if there even is one”.

For men, the greatest increase was in Hungary, with an estimated increase of 7.5 years more than 2010. The life expectancy is 78.2 years for boys born in 2030.

Like the females, South Korean males had the highest predicted life expectancy for 2030, with a whopping 84.1 years. Australia and Switzerland were not far behind with life expectancies of 84 years old.

The United States did not increase much. For women it was expected to increase by 2.1 years and for men it was expected to increase by 3 years. This would mean 83.3 years for women and 79.5 for men.

Researchers in the study noted that life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is already lower than most other high-income countries and that it is projected to fall further behind. Some reasons for this set back are that the U.S. has the highest homicide rates, highest death rates for women and children, and the highest average BMI of any high-income country. It is also the only country out of the 35 in the study that does not provide universal health care, so many people have unmet health care needs due to cost.

Source: http://www.livescience.com/57957-life-expectancy-increasing-2030.html

Additional Information:

https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/publication/global-health-and-aging/living-longer

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2016/12/life_expectancy_is_still_increasing.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11348561/Average-life-expectancy-heading-for-100.html

 

Is There a Limit to How Old Humans Will Get?

In the 1900s, the life expectancy for humans in the United States was approximately 50 years. Since then, the age to which humans can live has only grown. In 1997, a woman by the name of Jeanne Calment died at the age of 122- an astounding increase from the life expectancy less than a hundred years ago. A new study written about in the New York Times explains that Dr. Vijg, an expert on aging at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, feels that we have now reached our “ceiling. From now on, this is it: Humans will never get older than 115.” Dr. Vijg and his graduate students published their pessimistic study in the journal Nature, presenting the evidence for their claim.

For their study, Dr. Vijg and his colleagues looked at how many people of varying ages were alive in a given year. Then they compared the figures from year to year, in order to calculate how fast the population grew at each age. For a while, it looked as though the fastest-growing group was constantly becoming older; “By the 1990s, the fastest growing group of Frenchwomen was the 102-year-olds. If that trend had continued, the fastest-growing group today might well be the 110-year-olds.” (NY Times Article). Instead, the increases slowed and eventually stopped, leading Dr. Vijg and his colleagues to conclude that humans have finally hit an upper limit to their longevity. Further research into the International Database of Longevity seemed to validate their findings; No one, except in rare cases like Ms. Calment, had lived beyond the age of 115. It appears as though human beings have hit the ceiling of longevity.

There was a varied mix of responses to the study. Some, like Leonard P. Guarente, a biology professor at MIT, praised it, saying “it confirms an intuition he has developed over decades of research on aging.” Others, like James W. Vaupel, the director of the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, called the new study a travesty and said, “It is disheartening how many times the same mistake can be made in science and published in respectable journals.”

This study is by no means conclusive. It is simply one more piece of research in the ongoing debate over whether human beings will continue to live longer, and will continue to be debated by many experts in the field.

However, one must wonder whether living longer should be the goal. After all, as Dr. Vijg pointed out, “aging is the accumulation of damage to DNA and other molecules. Our bodies can slow the process by repairing some of this damage. But in the end, it’s too much to fix. At some point, everything goes wrong, and you collapse.” While morbid, he makes a valid observation: Humans can only go so long until necessary bodily functions begin to break down. Rather than worrying about whether we will live to an extraordinary age such as Ms. Calment, I concur with Dr. Vijg; the focus should be on living the most amount of healthy years and taking care of our bodies. While it may seem like a great idea to live to the age of 125, what good would that do if you aren’t able to continue with the activities you enjoy because your body is breaking down?

 

Other Relevant Articles:

In Depth Explanation of Longevity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longevity

A brief summary of Dr. Vijg’s findings (a bit shorter than the NY Times article): http://www.newser.com/story/232121/human-lifespan-has-likely-maxed-out.html

An interesting article about an entrepreneur’s quest to make people live even longer: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/11/-sp-live-forever-extend-life-calico-google-longevity

 

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