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Press release: Maximum lifespan may increase to 125 years

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29 June 2017

The oldest person ever was the Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122. Researchers at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and the University of Groningen (UG) claim that her record will be broken this century. The results of their research are being published today in Nature.

They expect the first Japanese woman to reach the age of 125 in approximately fifty years’ time. This contradicts the conclusion of American researchers, published in Nature last year, who set the maximum lifespan of humans at around 115 years.

NIDI and University of Groningen researchers De Beer, Bardoutsos and Janssen admit that the chances of reaching an age above 115 years are very slim. They calculated that a Japanese woman aged 85 has a chance of one in 450,000 of reaching the age of 118. Given, however, that there are more than 450,000 Japanese women who are currently 85 years old, at least one of them may be expected to reach the age of 118, i.e. older than the 115 years considered the maximum age by the American researchers.

Rising chances of survival

Even higher ages can be expected if we take into account the rising chances of survival. This will cause a drastic rise in the number of 100-year-old Japanese women, thus increasing the chances that one of them will reach the age of 120 years or more. And if the chances of survival over the age of 100 increase as well, the maximum lifespan of Japanese women will further increase to 125 years by 2070. This means that the limit to the lifespan of humans has definitely not yet been reached.

World record

The Dutch age record is lower than the world record: in 2005, Hendrikje van Andel reached the age of 115. An article published on the NIDI website today further states that the NIDI and University of Groningen researchers have calculated that there is a chance of more than fifty percent that a Dutchwoman born before 1945 will break Hendrikje van Andel’s record. The chance that any Dutch woman will break the world record this century is very small, however.

This research was partly funded by NWO through the VIDI grant for Fanny Janssen’s research entitled ‘Smoking, alcohol and obesity − ingredients for improved and robust mortality projections’. See www.futuremortality.com.

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