New research suggests that humans can live up to 130 years, with some possibility of living well into the future. However, there are very few chances to reach such an old age.
Long-running debates have been centered on the outer limit of human life expectancy. Recent studies suggest that we could live for up to 150 years. Others argue that there is no maximum theoretical lifespan.
The new research, published Wednesday in the Royal Society Open Science journal, wades into the debate by analyzing new data on supercentenarians people aged 110 or more and semi-supercentenarians, aged 105 or more.
The risk of dying increases over our lifetimes, but the research shows that the risk eventually plateaus at around 50-50.
Anthony Davison, who was the researcher and professor of statistics at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), said that beyond age 110 one could think of living another year almost as flipping a coin.
He told AFP that if it comes up heads, you'll live until your next birthday. If not, you'll die within the next year.
The data so far suggests that humans can live to 130. However, extrapolating the research "would imply there is no limit to human lifespan," it concludes.
These conclusions are similar to those made on older datasets.
Davison stated, "But this study strengthens these conclusions and makes them more exact because more data is now available."
The International Database on Longevity is the first dataset that the team examined. It contains more than 1,100 supercentenarians in 13 countries.
The second comes from Italy and is for anyone who was at minimum 105 years old between January 2009 & December 2015.
"One in a Million"
Davison stated that extrapolating existing data is necessary for the work.
He stated that any study of extreme age, biological or statistical, would require extrapolation.
He said, "We were able show that if there is a limit lower than 130 years, we should be able detect it using the data now."
However, the fact that humans could theoretically reach 130 and beyond doesn't necessarily mean that we will see it any time soon.
The analysis starts with people who have achieved the rare feat of reaching over 100.
Davison said that even at 110 years old, the chances of reaching 130 are "about 1 in a million...not impossible but very unlikely."
He believes that we might see people reach 130 in the next century as more people attain supercentenarian status. This will increase the chance of one becoming one in a million.
He said, "But in the lack of major medical and sociological advances, ages much more than this are highly unlikely to ever be observed."
Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman, is the oldest living person at present. She died in 1997 at the confirmed ripe old age of 122.
Although some people claimed she was a fraudster, her true age was disputed. However, experts in 2019 stated that a review of the evidence supported her age.
Others who claim to be the oldest living person have a long way ahead of them. Japan's Kane Tanaka is the oldest living person, at a relatively young 118.