Scientists have long debated whether there was a cap to the age limit of humans and some have now settled on around 115 years old as the “ceiling” to human aging.
This prediction was published in the journal Nature by Dr. Jan Vijg and his team at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, however many leading scientists disagree that we can predict a human age limit.
Vijg and his colleagues studied the trend of centenarians in several countries to come to their conclusion. Vijg, for example, states that in the 1990s, the fastest growing group of Frenchwomen were those aged 102. If the human lifespan was increasing, he argues, 110-year-olds would be the fastest growing group of women in France, which it is not.
However, Vijg and his team found that the trend of a growing group of centenarians has stopped in not only France, but in 40 other countries around the world.
He asserts that the trend toward living to over 100 began sometime in the 1980s, where the trend continued, but tapered off sometime in the 2000s. Vijg says that he feels that this means humans are approaching their upper age limit, which is why there is no marked increase in age from the 1990s.
For the research, Vijg and his team shifted through birth and death data from the 1960s onward. In 1968, the world’s oldest recorded person died at age 111. In the 1990s, a few people lived to be 115, a trend which seems to have lost steam. In the 1990s, however, a Frenchwoman that passed away at the age of 122, but she is an incredible exception.
Since then, he asserts, no one has lived past the age of 115, which Vijg believes is the natural cap for a human lifespan.
He says of his conclusion:
“You’d need 10,000 worlds like ours to have the chance that there would be one human who would become 125 years.”
And while Vijg’s evidence is compelling, he does have his critics.
James W. Vaupel, the director of the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging rejects the notion that there is an upper age limit, basing his data on the fact that the human lifespan has continued to increase rapidly over the past century.
According to Vaupel, in 1900, a child born in the United States had an average life expectancy of just 50 years old. Now, children in the US are expected to live to at least 79.
Vaupel had a few harsh words for Vijg’s journal entry:
“It is disheartening how many times the same mistake can be made in science and published in respectable journals.”