Photo: An old woman’s portrait smoking tobacco. Ivan2010/Wikimedia Commons.
When Emma Morano died on April 15 at 117 years old, the Italian woman was the oldest living person whose age had been verified. When asked the secret to a long life, Morano told CNN that she credited her longevity to a diet of raw eggs and cookies—and to staying single.
Scientists have long been fascinated by people who live beyond 100 years, looking to find biological underpinnings for their ability to stay alive. Now, a new study conducted by McGilll University biologists Bryan G. Hughes and Siegfried Hekimi, published in Nature, finds that there is no evidence of a limit for age, and if such a maximum exists, it has not yet to be discovered.
“We just don’t know what the age limit might be. In fact, by extending trend lines, we can show that maximum and average lifespans, could continue to increase far into the foreseeable future,” Hekimi said in a press release.
The study looked at the lifespans of the oldest people from the U.S., the U.K., France, and Japan every year since 1968, and determined that people are living longer than at any time previously recorded.
The average lifespan has steadily increased over the past century. In 1920, the average newborn living in Canada was expected to live to be 60 years old; someone born in 1980 is expected to reach 76; and as of 2017, the life expectancy is a whopping 82 years.
As technology, medical interventions, and improved living conditions enhance our quality of life and prevent untimely death, scientists now believe that people could easily live well beyond 100.
“Three hundred years ago, many people lived only short lives,” Hekimi observed. “If we would have told them that one day most humans might live up to 100, they would have said we were crazy.”
So now the questions become: How long do you want to live? What would you be willing to do—or sacrifice—to live beyond 100? How does increased life expectancy impact our already overpopulated planet?
Only the future knows…
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.