Saturday, October 29, 2022

Limits to human lifespan perspectives article

Nature Aging
has this interesting perspectives piece on the limits to human lifespan.  A sample (photo credit:  the mortality graph above is from the article):

With some ups and downs, life expectancy at birth throughout human history has never been much higher than 30 years, mostly due to the horrific rate of childhood mortality42,43,44. Before the 19th century technological explosion known as the Industrial Revolution, famine and infectious disease were the most common causes of death. Since then, there has been a massive inversion of conditions contributing to mortality. Improvements in agriculture, food storage and food transportation soon made famines a thing of the past, at least in Europe and the United States. Food security and alleviation of crowded living conditions greatly reduced the prevalence of infectious diseases. Even as late as 1900, influenza was the leading cause of death in the United States, followed by tuberculosis; by 2010, influenza had sunk to ninth place, and tuberculosis did not even break into the top ten. Instead, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other noncommunicable conditions dominate the leaderboard45.

....Can modern science succeed where Gilgamesh, and so many others, failed? Only time will tell, but the obstacles faced are certainly formidable. Indeed, all current scientific evidence tells us that breaking through the biological limits of human lifespan is impossible. However, past centuries have learned that in science no possibility can ever be excluded and new insights and more advanced technologies may emerge to radically extend the maximum lifespan of our species above and beyond the current limit established from demographic analysis. Aging is the ultimate challenge of humankind. Defeating it will require groundbreaking research that utilizes a wide range of knowledge and techniques across many areas of science and clinical practice. To accomplish this would certainly warrant the name we have given to our species: Homo sapiens.