If you could, would you want to live forever? If your answer is yes, there’s some encouraging news. A new study out of McGill University in Canada that looked at the lifespans of the longest-living individuals from the US, the UK, France and Japan for every year since 1968 has found that human beings are living longer than ever.
The results are so compelling, in fact, that researchers believe they could indicate that the human body has no fixed age limit, according to a press release.
“We just don’t know what the age limit might be. In fact, by extending trend lines, we can show that maximum and average lifespans, could continue to increase far into the foreseeable future,” said Siegfried Hekimi, one of the study’s researchers.
The study was, in part, a response to an analysis published last year that suggested there might be a natural limit to the human lifespan after all, plateauing at around 115 years old. McGill researchers found no evidence of such a plateau, however. Rather, the plateau of 115 that the previous analysis had detected seems to be part of a decipherable plateauing pattern that continues to climb upward. In other words, we’ve breached previous plateaus in the past, and there’s no reason to believe that we won’t breach the one we’re at now too.
It’s important to note that this study analyzed maximum life expectancy, which is different from average life expectancy. As many people are aware, average life expectancy has increased dramatically over the last 100 years. In 1920, the average life expectancy (for a baby born in Canada) was about 60 years. By 1980 that expectancy reached 76 years, and today it hovers around 82.
There’s no reason to believe the average life expectancy trend has reached a limit, and the McGill study found that maximum life expectancy follows an identical trend.
“Three hundred years ago, many people lived only short lives,” said Hekimi. “If we would have told them that one day most humans might live up to 100, they would have said we were crazy.”
The research was published in the journal Nature.