Right now, the human race is experiencing the longest average life expectancies ever recorded. Based on world averages, a baby born today can expect to live to nearly 70 years old. If that doesn’t sound particularly impressive to a Canadian or American audience, perhaps this statistic might: in the middle ages, a baby born in the developed world could expect to live to, on average, about 30 years old.
Although life expectancies feature an average lifespan, the numbers don’t necessary tell the entire story. As recently as the 1750s in England, as many as 75% of children died before they reached five years old, dramatically lowering the ‘overall’ life expectancy. As a result, the low life expectancy numbers did not necessarily reflect that people died younger; rather, it reflected the fact that many people died very young.
Today, other than the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, infant mortality is low, and most deaths occur after the age of 65.
And while life span rates have increased dramatically over the course of the last few hundred years, some experts say humanity has only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Aubrey de Grey, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, is a well-known proponent of lifespan extension, meaning humans will be able to live to the age of 150, 200, or even one thousand years.
According to de Grey, while scientific advancement is moving forward, the biggest challenge to extended life spans is what he calls the “pro-aging trance,” where most people assume aging – and death – is a natural part of the life cycle, and as a result, not something to fight against, or to fear.
But not all experts are convinced extended life spans are possible.
Dr. Michael Gordon, the Vice President of Medical Services at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, one of the world’s largest geriatric care hospitals, told RetirementHomes.com he believes there is a limit to human lifespan.
“I don’t believe the maximum life span of the human species is beyond probably 115 or 120 years,” he said. “What has changed is the life expectancy at birth, as a result of changes in lifestyle, illness, good luck, and healthcare.”
Gordon said he believes each species, including humans, has its own maximum life span, and while humanity has been successfully closing the gap as a result of health and technological advancements, people won’t live longer in the future than they do now.
“I don’t believe for one second about living to 150 or 200 years. I don’t believe it’s built into our biology,” Gordon said.
What do you think? Will human beings ever live to the age of 150, 200 or even one thousand years old? Tell us in the comment section below: