Longevity And Ageing: Struggling To Violate The Rules
Many ages have passed since God declared that a human life has a limit determined by Him, and these humans have ever since been struggling to break the rule in a defiant attempt to become immortal. Recent years have seen the appearance of dozens of new researches dedicated to the issue of longevity and ageing.
Advanced technologies help people predict what biological limitations our bodies (and bodies of other living beings) have. Although the debate does not cease to thrive, there are two major theories which break the society into two parts: there are those who believe nothing can stop us from living longer than 120 years, and those who deny such a possibility and claim the limit is already evident. And the more years pass, the faster the former community expands.
What studies say
The notion of ageing is more or less defined: it is the process of cell degradation, and while the body strives to fix the damage done to it, the time comes when it no longer can handle all the challenges (chemical, environmental, moral, etc.) it has to face. In their attempt to determine whether an average person can live more than the current life expectancy figures, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine analyzed the statistical data of lifespan of people who lived in the 20th century and those who still live in the 21st century. They found that while the plateau has shifted significantly, the humankind has now reached its limit, and the maximum age is not supposed to increase. Except for Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, other data proves that the evident plateau is 115 years.
This research, which was published in 2016, gave rise to debates which continue to fuel arguments mediated by scientific magazines. McGill University experts have recently criticized the work and pointed out to weaknesses seen in the methods used by their AECM counterparts, saying there is no evidence proving the limit has been reached. However, such claims do not seem to put an end to discussions: the more data there are, the more facts there are which prove that it is not possible to predict longevity, at least to the extent that would make such statements feasible and unambiguous.
Among the advanced technologies which are supposed to help humans eliminate unnecessary genetic mutations are things like CRISPR. This means of gene editing is now widely used to make changes to gene expression, thus preventing some mutations from occurring. This powerful tool is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it brings an opportunity to help the disabled and those suffering from various diseases – it can affect longevity; on the other hand, it raises concerns, as such an approach can be dangerous and may have ethical and moral consequences.
So, how long do we have?
The question of whether a person should live longer than an average person lives nowadays is a kind of a thing everyone has to find an answer to himself. Another kettle of fish is healthy life expectancy, e.g. the period of good health. The majority of researchers share the opinion that it is possible to increase it by sticking to healthy diets, doing sports, and taking drugs to alleviate the symptoms of chronic diseases.
One of the major issues that concern governments and healthcare institutions is that the population is getting older, and it may be a significant burden for the state to support all the old people who cannot work anymore. So one of the primary goals of research teams is to find a way to help people live active lives, so that they could continue working and being useful.
Many people claim they want to live as long as they are healthy, so it seems like healthy life expectancy is a much better aspiration than immortality.