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If you survive the dangerous 80 and 90 and reach 105 years, it is quite likely that you will also do so until 110.
That is what the results of a study that analyzed the cases of almost 4,000 Italians over 105 years suggest.
The death rate grows exponentially as we get older. At the age of 80, the probability of dying is accelerated due to diseases such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, cancer and pneumonia.
But according to a research that has just been published in the journal Science, although “human mortality rates grow exponentially until they reach 80, then they slow down and stagnate after the age of 105.”
The academics concluded that the projected life expectancy was the same for a person of 105 years than for a person of 110, and that the probability of dying after 105 years, regardless of age, is always approximately 50%. That is, it remains constant, it does not accelerate with age.
To reach these conclusions, researchers from universities and centers in Italy, the United States, Germany and Denmark, used data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics. They analyzed the trajectories of 3,836 semi-super-centenarians , between 105 and 109 years old, and supercentenarios , those who already completed 110, between 2009 and 2015.
“Not only do we see that the death rate stops getting worse with age, but we see that it improves a bit over time,” said Kenneth Watcher, professor emeritus of demography and statistics at the University of California at Berkeley, one of the authors of the study.
How does the curve finish? The great debate
According to the lead author of the study, Elisabetta Barbi, from the Department of Statistical Sciences of the University of Sapienza Universita in Rome, her estimates have a precision and accuracy unparalleled until now, given the careful documentation of the data recorded on the analyzed ones, Older of the old.
However, their conclusions ignite the already heated debate that exists among specialists in human mortality about whether our species is already approaching its limit of life expectancy.
In this particular issue on one side are those who believe that the probability of dying stagnates in extreme age, as the authors of this study, and the other who came to the opposite conclusion in previous research and argue that the death rate is still accelerating to the end.
According to Vaupel, another co-author and aging specialist at the German Max Planck Institute, if mortality remains constant and more and more people survive to older ages, the record of longevity will eventually break.
To date, the human being verified as the longest lived was Jeanne Calment , a woman from France, who died in 1997 at 122 years of age .
Since then, and despite the fact that more and more people are living longer, this barrier has not been broken again, and for some specialists that is evidence that the human being can not live much beyond that age.
Also in other species
However, according to the authors of this study, there are several species that have a mortality pattern similar to that observed in humans in extreme age, such as the fruit fly and nematode worms.
That point in common, according to the evolutionary demographic specialists in this study, may indicate that there is a common structural and evolutionary explanation.
Wachter and Vaupel theorize that those who survive to extremely advanced ages do so because of a natural demographic selection : they have a sort of “blessed” genetic inheritance that takes them to extreme age.