A few years ago, a research group in the United States claimed that humans cannot grow older than 115 years, no matter what medical advancements we make in the future. A small number can get a little older, but virtually no one can be over 125 years old according to the researchers.
The researchers were quickly rebuffed by other research groups. One of these groups came from Chalmers University of Technology and they have now found further signs that there is no fixed upper limit for how old we can get.
Chalmers researchers have performed statistical analyzes on databases of long-lived people and have not seen any statistical evidence that 115 or 125 years would be an upper limit.
"If there had been a limit for 130 years, it should have been discovered in the study and in such cases it would have been an indication that the increase in life expectancy cannot continue indefinitely. But that is not the case", says Holger Rootzén at Chalmers and one of the researchers behind the study, in a press release.
Even though there does not seem to be an upper limit to what age we may reach, the world is not likely to be flooded by 130-year-olds. The researchers do not believe that we will see anyone over the age of 128 in the next 25 years, but that presupposes that there will be no medical revolutions during that time.
One thing that researchers discovered is that after the age of 108, there seems to be a 50 percent chance of dying each year.
"There does not seem to be any difference in mortality at old age between different countries and between women and men. We suspect that the plateau with a 50 percent risk of dying per year is a biological trait that is common to all people. Had we met Jean Calment, the person who lived the longest and was 122 years old when she died, when she turned 108, we could have told her that she must receive the heads 14 times in a row to be 122 years old. That chance is about one in 16,000", says Holger Rootzén.