Longevity: Freddie Mercury and Queen asked “Who wants to live forever?” (“Who wants to live forever?”, in free translation) in one of his hits. Whether you like it or not, living forever is not yet possible, but a new study suggests that we can reach about 150 years. Until today, the person who lived the longest was the French Jeanne Calment, with the world record of 122 years. But after all, what is the maximum period for us to live and how was it found?
Understanding our limits
The researchers stated in a study published on May 25 in Nature Communications, that although we do not die of cancer or other serious illness and do not suffer any fatal accident, our body’s ability to restore balance to its structural and metabolic systems after interruptions decreases over time. So, even surviving and facing little stress, this natural decline sets the maximum life expectancy for humans around 120 to 150 years.
In the end, if the obvious dangers don’t take our lives, the loss of resilience will, concluded the team ahead of the research. Resilience, in this case, is the concept of Physics: the ability to accumulate energy, when required or subjected to stress, without rupture.
The results point to an underlying “aging rate” that defines the limits of life expectancy, said Heather Whitson, in an interview with writer Emily Willingham for Scientific American. Whitson is director of the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke University in North Carolina, United States, and did not participate in the study.
How the study was done
The research was led by Timothy Pyrkov, a researcher at a Singapore-based company called Gero. He and his colleagues analyzed this “aging rate” in three large groups of people, separated by age, in the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia. To assess deviations in health, the researchers used blood cell counts and the daily number of steps taken by participants.
They found a pattern for both blood cell counts and step counts: as age increased, something other than disease led to a predictable and incremental decline in the body’s ability to return blood cells or to walk. stable level after an interruption. Pyrkov and his colleagues in Moscow and Buffalo, NY, used this predictable pace to determine when resilience would completely disappear, leading to death.
The researchers also found that, with age, the body’s response to aggression may vary farther and farther from the normal stable, requiring more time for its recovery.
Whitson points out that blood pressure and blood cell counts have a known healthy range, but how many steps someone takes per day is very personal. The fact that Pyrkov and his colleagues chose a variable so different from blood counts and yet found the same decline in health over time may suggest a real factor in the pace of aging.