Have you ever wondered how long can one live? How old was the oldest man on earth? Is there a limit to which human beings can age? These questions often hover in the mind, don’t they?
A recent research paper by a team of American researchers claimed that “maximum longevity has hit a ceiling of 114.9 years”. After it garnered a lot of criticism from the scientific community, a new study from five separate research teams in a series of papers in the journal Nature has set out to zap its claims saying “there is no compelling evidence that we are approaching an upper limit on our mortality – or at the very least, that such a limit may be considerably higher than 115 years.”
Calling it the “worst piece of research”, Prof Jim Vaupel, a specialist in ageing at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany and one of the authors, said, “The evidence points towards no looming limit. At present the balance of the evidence suggests that if there is a limit it is above 120, perhaps much above – and perhaps there is not a limit at all.”
Arguing that the conclusion is wrong, the new study offers a host of more optimistic interpretations. Prof Siegfried Hekimi from McGill University in Montreal said, “You can show the data are compatible with many different trajectories and not at all an ongoing plateau.”
Under one such scenario, lifespans would be predicted to climb steadily upwards, such that the oldest person alive by the year 2,300 would be expected to be 150 years old. “The increase in average lifespan will not suddenly crash into a 115-year limit,” he added.
A breakthrough research, its findings have powerfully challenged the idea that humans are approaching a hard limit on longevity. Only time will tell if it proves to be true.