The journalist Henrik Lennart has a new book out in Swedish – “Åldrandets gåta” (The Mystery of Aging), where he interviews the worlds leading researchers and demographers about aging. Our descendants will have to learn to have many careers within their lifetimes.
Science has long envisaged a limit to how long a person can live – around 120 years. But now research is catching up with our fantasies. Henrik Lennart interviews the world’s leading researchers specializing in aging. They all come to the same conclusion: We, and especially our children, will live far longer than is common today.
Why? Improved standards of living come into play but also our lifestyles. Advice from the experts can differ: eat fewer calories, stand up when you are working, fast or cut down on meat and sugar. These choices certainly affect the aging of cells, and when researchers finally find the genes that control lifespan and have learned how to control them, the question will become:
How old would we like to be?
Some researchers believe that the first human who will live to be 200 years old is already living.
“According to our calculation, half of the children born in Sweden in 2012 will live to be 104 years old”, says demographer James Vaupel. Life expectancy has increased steadily over the past hundred years. ….. Today, the average life expectancy in Sweden is 83 years for women and 79 for men.
In a new book “The Mystery of Aging” journalist Henrik Lennart has interviewed demographers and scientists who believe that statisticians world-wide have systematically underestimated the rate of increase of life expectancy and that this has been going on for a very long time.
Statisticians have not fully considered the influence of welfare reforms, better living conditions and more efficient healthcare. To get a more accurate picture one of the world’s best-known demographers James Vaupel, along with a group of prestigious scientists have made new calculations where they have added a factor to reflect the impact of as yet unknown developments – not dramatic but which can be expected in the future.
Their calculations show that half of all the children born in Sweden this year will live to be 104 years old. “In the future, we could live to be ten times older. Why not? It will take time to get there but it is certainly not impossible. In my opinion it is quite likely that there is a rather small child already born somewhere who will live to be more than 200 years old”, says James Vaupel who is interviewed in “The Mystery of Aging.”
Svenska Dagbladet adds:
James Vaupel and Cambridge researcher Jim Oeppen have previously shown that the curve of women’s life expectancy in the Western world has increased at an even and steady pace of three months per year for 160 years. Swedish statistics extend further back than in most other countries, and this increase has been by an average of 2.5 months per year since 1751.
Previously, scientists believed that there was a ceiling for the average life expectancy of a little over 80 years. Today this ceiling has shifted up at least a decade, and continues to rise.
“We no longer know if there is any ceiling and where it lies if it does exist”, says James Vaupel.
At this rate everybody will be living to around 200 years by 2500.