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Is there a limit to the maximum age a human could possibly live to?

Is there a limit to the maximum age a human could possibly live to? Will humans ever live that long?
Lisa from Greater London (age 25-34)

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3 Responses

  1. Theoretically, there is no maximum age that the human body can reach, it contains at a cellular level everything it needs to constantly rebuild and repair itself. However, as with all things that age, our ability to repair ourselves decreases in efficiency compared to the rate at which we damage ourselves. This is mainly the result of damage to our genes and thus affecting their efficiency to work. Simply we age because we lose the ability to repair ourselves at the same speed as we damage ourselves. There is the telemetric clock which is a small region at the end of each chromosome. It needs to be fully copied every time the chromosome is copied, but it seldom is and so with time it becomes shorter and shorter. This makes copying the chromosomes less and less efficient, hence we can not make new cells and repair our tissues. There is a disease which increases the loss of these telomeres sufferers of this disease (progeria), age at an accelerated rate and die of old age at about 15-20.

  2. Recently there was a Horizon programme on BBC2 concerning longevity. The reporter visited a small area of Italy where many people live to 100 years and beyond. There appeared to be some genetic connection, with many of the long-lived people being related. The other end of the spectrum was a visit to Glasgow where in one area the life expectancy of a male was about 57 years. In Glasgow it is clearly a matter of environment and lifestyle, with a poor diet. So there are two important factors here on lifespan – genetics and environment. So at the moment given the best medical care and a pleasant environment I would think in the 21st century that people could live to be 120 years. Now increasing lifespan artificially by the use of rejuvenating medications and transplants; that is another matter.

  3. Humans will probably not ever be able to live forever. Or if they ever are able to live for a very long time, it will be after evolving (or being genetically engineered maybe!) into something that is not like today’s humans. For example, humans, who can live to over 100 years, evolved from small mammals which probably only lived about 2-3 years, like mice do. Compared with 2-3 years, 100 years looks like forever, or at least a very long time. This would be like humans living to over 3000 years old.

    The problem is that our genes have evolved so that they do not program us to live for a very long time. They only program us to live until we have reproduced. Then they are less good at allowing us to resist damage and to repair damage, whether the damage is caused from within our bodies or from external causes like infectious diseases. With good medicine and preventive measures currently available we might be able to reach about 140 but even that may be unlikely.

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