It’s a basic human instinct to want to live as long as possible. We go out of our ways for the new skin therapy or drug treatment that will maintain our health and give us enough time on this planet.
Doctors are naturally fascinated with expanding the natural lifespan, which has gone from around 45-50 to 75-80 in the last 100 years. Can we continue to increase the natural lifespan of humans?
But as a new study published in Nature concludes, humans may have reached their ceiling in terms of lifespan.
From the study:
“Here, by analysing global demographic data, we show that improvements in survival with age tend to decline after age 100, and that the age at death of the world’s oldest person has not increased since the 1990s. Our results strongly suggest that the maximum lifespan of humans is fixed and subject to natural constraints.”
The hypothesis in this study is basically that there is a natural cap on the lifespan of humans, as “maximum lifespan” has not improved in decades.
Scientists have begun looking at certain medications that can increase lifespan, but most importantly they are re-evaluating the way doctors treat disease and aging.
Dr. Jay Olshansky, professor at the University of Chicago, told Motherboard the key to living longer may be to treat aging as a disease, as opposed to treating individual diseases separately:
“If we continue going after one disease at a time, as though they’re all independent, we’ll increase frailty and disability as a result. There may be a heavy price for not slowing aging.”
Olshansky sees a diabetes drug called metformin as a possible treatment of old age as it “lowers the rate of living” according to Dr. Michael Pollack of McGill University.
Dr. Olshansky is rather bullish on the prospects of metformin and thinks it’s something we need to be working harder on:
“I am optimistic that it’s not only possible, we can do it. And we should aggressively be pursuing it.”
If the metformin trials go well and it truly is a drug that sustains health for longer periods than previously was possible, it will be a major scientific breakthrough.