Long Life and Health
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How Long Can Humans Really Live?

Scientists believe that they have found proof that the maximum human lifespan tops out at about 150 years.

Despite modern medicine and any kind of lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise, a group of researchers have surmised that the maximum human lifespan is 150 years. This would top the current record for the oldest human — Jeanne Calment, who passed away in 1997 at 122 years — but it sure does put a damper on efforts to live forever. Or does it? The researchers with the Singapore based AI-startup Gero also say that once we can crack the code as to why we max out at that age, we can come up with ways to break the ceiling.

Using an iPhone app and a huge amount of medical data from volunteers in the UK and US, scientists think they’ve confirmed the maximum age people can anticipate ever living to as a range between 120 and 150 years. After that, what they identify as your body’s “resilience” or ability to repair or renew itself – simply wears out.

Artificial intelligence analyzed the health- and fitness-related information, and researchers determined that the human lifespan is most significantly based on two data points: biological age (associated with stress, lifestyle, and chronic diseases) and resilience (how quickly the person returns to normal after responding to a stressor).

Using these findings and related trends, researchers hypothesized that, at around 120 to 150 years old, the human body shows “a complete loss” of resilience, resulting in an inability to recover, according to a press release.

“As we age, more and more time is required to recover after a perturbation, and on average, we spend less and less time close to the optimal physiological state,” study author Timothy V. Pyrkov said.

Professor Andrei Gudkov — who works at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, which collaborated on the study — further commented that the finding is “a conceptual breakthrough because it determines and separates the roles of fundamental factors in human longevity … It explains why even the most effective prevention and treatment of age-related diseases could only improve the average, but not the maximal, lifespan unless true anti-aging therapies have been developed.”

The authors point out in the paper that their study provides no answers as to what those new anti-aging therapies might be. But they say it suggests current therapies aimed at treating specific chronic diseases are unlikely to extend lifespans beyond the ceiling they have identified.

Instead, they say that their work indicates that the focus should be on identifying and tackling the source, or sources, of this loss of resilience. Boosting the body’s resilience wouldn’t only help us live longer, it would also help us recover better from disease longer into life, which could help extend something even more important than lifespan: healthspan.

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