New Debate Over Human Lifespan

There's disagreement in the scientific community over the human lifespan.  Last year, researchers in New York reported the maximum human lifespan is 115 years.  But new research published in the journal Nature challenges that assertion, claiming that there is no conceivable limit on how long human beings can live with continual advancements in medicine and lifestyle. 

Dr. Carmen Castro, manager of the Harris County Long-term Care Ombudsman Program at UTHealth School of Nursing, doesn't necessarily believe in the "unlimited" lifespan theory.  "That would be nice, but I would err on the side of caution and say it's not boundless, and there are limits," she says.

Dr. Castro tells KTRH that predicting someone's lifespan is complicated, with varying issues both in and out of our control.  "There are lots of factors in society that can affect a person's lifespan, such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, etcetera," she says.  "Then there are health behaviors, such as whether one smokes, diet and exercise, etc...and all of those factors impact the length of one's life, including genetics as well."

And it's not just about staying healthy and seeing your doctor on a regular basis.  "Aside from a healthy diet and exercise and making healthy choices, there are also environmental factors that can impact the length of a person's life," says Dr. Castro.

Whatever the limits on our lifespan, they are definitely getting longer.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1900 the average lifespan was 47 years.  By 2015, it was up to 78.8 years.  And recent reports suggest there will soon be even more accurate ways to predict our lifespan.

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