The future of human life expectancy has always fascinated researchers. The National Institute on Aging has sponsored research in this sphere. Researchers have found that after remaining static, human life expectancy has actually managed to double in the last 100 years. The life span of humans on an average has increased. However, there appears to be confusion among researchers. Some claim that the human life expectancy has reached its peak, while others claim that the trend of increase will continue.
The Future of Human Life Expectancy
In the initial years of the twentieth century, it was because of advances in medical science and better nutrition that fewer infants and children were dying. As a result, this gave impetus to human life expectancy. With the discovery of antibiotics and other drugs, such as sulfa drugs and penicillin, even adult life expectancy increased. In the second half of the twentieth century, people began having access to better healthcare, and they began concentrating on better lifestyle habits and having better standards of living. As a result, the number of deaths due to chronic health problems reduced. This reduction was seen in all developed countries.
Limited Life Expectancy Argument
James Fries, a renowned researcher, claimed in the 1980s that human beings had maximum life expectancy potential that they were born with. And, this maximum limit was spread across the entire population. He claimed that the average maximum limit was eighty-five years, which could deviate by seven years. This argument went on to be called Fries Hypothesis. In fact, there were many researchers and scholars that supported this hypothesis, including Bruce Carnes and Jay Olshansky. These researchers claimed that every living organism on earth came with a limited life expectancy.
According to Carnes and Olshansky, that if human beings had the ability to live for hundred years, then they should not have any reduction in their mental and physiological functioning, as is evident now when a person reaches the average life span of 75 to 80 years. The same researchers claim that human life expectancy has reached its limit and cannot extend beyond the current level. The researchers claim that in the twenty-first century, it is highly improbable that the human life expectancy will go beyond 90 years.
Extended Human Life Expectancy Argument
There are researchers, such as James Vaupel, who claim that human life expectancy has not reached its limits and will continue to increase. This claim is supported by the fact in the last decade or so, life expectancy has increased beyond what researchers and demographers had predicted. They also found that mortality rate has declined even among those who are 80 years old. So this leads them to conclude or argue that there is still potential for the human race to add more years to its life expectancy.
Forecasting life expectancy is a delicate job and requires demographers to take into consideration many factors. At the moment, the future of human life expectancy be limitless has not been proven conclusively. But it goes without saying that human life expectancy has increased with a decrease in adult, child and infant mortality rates. Whether this trend will continue indefinitely is something that just research will be able to figure out. Until such time, we will just have to be content knowing that human life expectancy has increased compared to what it was a few decades ago.
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Population Reference Bureau: The Future of Human Life Expectancy: Have We Reached the Ceiling or Is the Sky the Limit?
Wikipedia: Life Expectancy