How long can a person live, really?

ON 60 Minutes last week, there was a story about aging and lengthening human lives. One “expert” said that 500 to 1000 years was not unreasonable.

Yeah, whatever.

Suppose there were such a medical way of controlling aging and even diseases. How long before a modern human could expect to be done in by an accident? I don’t see any medical way to prevent plain ol’ bad luck.

If accidents are the only possible cause of death, then human life expectancy is about 10,000 years. There was a thread in GD that dealt with this at some point, but I’m not having much luck searching for it.

10,000 years? I’d really lke to see that thread as there must be some catch.

While looking up some information the other day on canine longevity I came across the bit below. Most of it is talking about dogs but it specifically answers the OP as well regarding humans saying 120 years is the max. The talk on extending life beyond the “max” relates to dogs but seems equally as applicable to humans.

I don’t see what the catch would need to be. The constraints are pretty tight in this scenario: only possible cause of death is accident. You would then need to do a statistical calculation of what a person’s chances are of dying from an accident in any time period and extrapolate to where there’s a better than 50% chance of death by accident in a certain timeframe. 10,000 years sounds reasonable to me.

Nobody knows enough about all the factors of aging to know the true answer to this question. What we’re seeing now is hype and supposition from people who think that a breakthrough is around the corner. Obviously, they have no living human examples of their work to point to.

We don’t really know anything. We don’t know if adults can be made to live longer. We don’t know if children can be given longer lives by medicine, nutrition, or supplements. We don’t know how to make genetic changes in embryos. We have no sound ethical way of testing any of the theories that we have.

The bottom line is that I know of no good evidence that the human life span is capable of being pushed well beyond 120 by any current technique.

Hmm… here’s another question.

Is there a noticeable correlation between the accidental death rate and population density in general?? I’m not sure, but it would seem that with more of us around, driving in traffic, building tall buildings for office room etcetera, there’s a greater chance of reaching misadventure.

In that case, if disease and old age were ‘cured’, there’d probably be an increase in the population, and the accident rates would increase too. Just a thought.

Ah, I found the thread I mentioned earlier.

As was mentioned in there, we really have no idea what would happen to our actuarial assumptions if people started living much longer, so the calculations are at best slightly educated guesses.

Who wants to live that long anyway?
Aches, pains, arthritis, impaired body functions, etc.
The utimate insult is to be put on life support when the body is worn out and is trying to put the individual out of their misery. e.g. inoperable condition of any kind, cancer, internal bleeding, etc. etc.


Who would really want to live that long…

Think about about it:

Say the average person gets married in their twenties, that’s over 400 years of marriage to the same woman!

Say the retirement age is 455, that’s FOUR centuries of god awful work, no matter how much you enjoy your job, even if it WAS in the porn industry.

We celebrate Birthday’s EVERY year for obvious reasons… what would you get or give by your 200th birthday?

Say you have kids every five years, thats over NINETY offspring!!! Our population would be so outragous, we’d have to look to Mars to repopulate!


Driving is indeed dangerous (I believe it kills about 1 in 80 people) but driving is even more necessary in rural areas and often the roads are more dangerous. Inner cities tend to have a lower rate of auto fatalities because you can’t go fast most of the time. I don’t know why you threw in high rise buildings unless you are being sucked in by high profile terrorist attacks and suicides. Rural areas tend have more common dangerous activities from farming to fishing.

Once a mammal is an adult, the risk of dying begins to increase. This is the fundamental difference between us and a wine glass. Barring accidents, a wine glass will survive forever. For us adult humans, every year we survive, the chance of death increases. So by the time we are one hundred years old, the chance of death by one hundred and one is very high, and if we do live for another year, we are even less likely to live through the following year. We are like working taxi cabs. At some point, an essential component is going to wear out. Human beings and taxi cabs cannot last 10,000 years without organs or engines being replaced, even without accidents.
In our bodies, useless substances, and nonfunctional cells and proteins accumulate, and gradually these things interfere with proper function. Our joints wear away, our bones thin. Stem cells necessary for normal turnover of skin and blood and intestine may dissappear.
So, have children, and rest assured that your genes will live on forever in them.

Even if this number was 1 in 800 I would be miffed. Cite?

The vast majority of mammals have far higher death rates in their juvenile stage than as adults. IOW the risk of dying actually decreases once a mammal is an adult. Unles of course you mean absolute risk of dying, rather than risk per time period. But of course absolute risk of deathis always 100% no matter what age the individual is. All mammals die.

IIRC, the maximum lifespan for most higher animals is about 10 times the age of puberty, but for some reason unknown to me it’s a little less in humans - that is, a significant percentage of animals can reach 10X puberty under optimum conditions, but a human reaching 120 years is quite exceptional.

Nonsense. In just one species, Homo Sapiens, there are over 6 billion mammals who have never died, not even once. Your confidence in predicting indefinitely into the future is unfounded.

Science fiction writers have done a gazillion stories about immortals and immortality. They only agree in one thing: that true species-wide immortality would be a discontinuity with previous human history and therefore no linear extrapolation can be justified.

We don’t know whether immortals would be insanely cautious about taking any risks that might result in an untimely death or whether immortals would be freed of today’s restraints and plunge into extreme activities. We don’t know whether they could psychologically handle the extra time, or whether this would drive them to suicide or homicide. We don’t know whether this would make them more communal or fanatically solitary or both in some sort of cycle. We don’t know whether they would be more driven to have children or less and less interested in those younger than them. We don’t know whether all these possibilities would happen simultaneously or whether some are more likely than others.

In the old saying: if you change everything, everything changes.

Tell that to Buddhists. :smiley:

Actually, though this might be equally inapropos, I was thinking more of elevator failures and [accidental] falling off balconies. :wink:
Willing to concede that the death rate from either may be quite low.

IIRC, the 120 year limit is based on telomeres. Basically, every time a cell undergoes mitosis, the telomere gets a little shorter. When it’s gone completely, the cell pretty much shuts down. So living much beyond 120 is going to require some serious genetic engineering work.

I love your optimism… :slight_smile: