Living to Age 130:  New Study Projects It Could Happen

TUESDAY, July 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) — How long can a human live? New research predicts there’s a chance that someone in the world will celebrate a 130th birthday in this century.

There’s been a steady rise in the number of people living beyond 100 years in recent decades, with up to nearly half a million worldwide, researchers noted.

The world’s oldest known person was Jeanne Calment of France, who was 122 when she died in 1997. Currently, the world’s oldest person is 118-year-old Kane Tanaka of Japan.

Some experts believe that disease and basic cell deterioration limit human life span, but others believe there is no ceiling.

University of Washington researchers used statistical modeling to determine potential maximum life spans this century.

“People are fascinated by the extremes of humanity, whether it’s going to the moon, how fast someone can run in the Olympics, or even how long someone can live,” said study author Michael Pearce, a doctoral student in statistics.

“With this work, we quantify how likely we believe it is that some individual will reach various extreme ages this century,” he said in a university news release.

Pearce and his colleagues concluded that by 2100, it’s nearly 100% likely that the current known record of 122 years will be broken. There’s a 99% probability that someone will live to 124, a 68% chance of someone making it to 127, and a 13% likelihood that a person will reach 130.

It’s extremely unlikely that a person will live to 135 this century, according to the study published June 30 in the journal Demographic Research.

While there are increasing numbers of long-lived people, the authors noted that the death rate flattens after a certain age, which means that a 110-year-old and a 114-year-old have about the same chances of living another year.

“It doesn’t matter how old they are, once they reach 110, they still die at the same rate,” said study co-author Adrian Raftery, a professor of sociology and of statistics.

“They’ve gotten past all the various things life throws at you, such as disease. They die for reasons that are somewhat independent of what affects younger people,” he explained in the release. “This is a very select group of very robust people.”

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers advice about healthy aging.

SOURCE: University of Washington, news release, July 1, 2021