The odds of living past age 110 are becoming more likely, according to a new study from the University of Washington, which used used mathematical modeling predict the probability of people becoming “supercentenarians” in the years 2020 through 2100.
The researchers found that it’s “extremely likely” to see the record for the oldest human broken during this century, says Michael Pearce, study author and PhD student at the University of Washington.
To date, the oldest person to ever live was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who died in 1997 at age 122 years and 164 days old.
There’s a 68% probability that someone will reach age 127 by 2100, and a 13% probability someone reaches age 130, according to Pearce.
Among other factors, advancements in medicine and aging biology have influenced people’s potential lifespans. Indeed, so much progress has been made in the field of aging biology that some experts believe we will eventually be able to “cure” aging.
“The assumption that the incremental progress in lifestyle and medicine that we’ve seen for the last 200 years or so will continue for the next 80 may be pessimistic given progress in aging biology,” says Andrew Steele, scientist and author of “Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old.”
“I think there’s the potential for far more exciting breakthroughs by targeting the aging process rather than particular diseases,” he says.
For example, researchers are looking into how to target aging cells called “senescent cells.” Instead of dividing and making new cells, senescent cells hang around and release chemicals and molecules that mess with other healthy cells and trigger inflammation. The number of senescent cells someone has increase as people age, but studies on mice show that they can be removed and potentially increase their lifespans.
Steele says it’s “not some far-future sci-fi projection” to imagine people who are currently alive making it to 120-plus before 2100. A separate study published in May looked at biological markers of aging in people’s blood and found that humans in a stress-free environment with no disease are theoretically capable of living up to 150 years.
In the meantime, there are things people can do to lengthen their own lifespans.
A 2018 study from Harvard found that those who followed five simple habits – eating a high-quality healthy diet, doing at least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and not smoking — increased life expectancy by up to 10 years. More recent research suggests that eating two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables is associated with lower mortality rates.
In areas of the world where people live the longest, also known as the “Blue Zones,” specific habits help contribute to longevity, according to Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and journalist. For example, having at least three close friends who you can count on for emotional support, walking daily and taking a 20-minute nap five days a week are all things that have been shown to improve lifespan, he previously told CNBC Make It.
According to Steele, brushing and cleaning your teeth can stave off your risk of heart disease and dementia. Having good oral hygiene gets rid of chronic low-level inflammation that can hamper your immune system.
The University of Washington researchers utilized data from the International Database on Longevity, which tracks “supercentenarians,” or people over 110 in 13 countries including the United States for their findings. The researchers did not look at ways to extend your lifespan.