Definition: Defining the Meaning of Longevity (Life Expectancy)
The term "longevity" is sometimes used as a synonym for "life expectancy" - however, the term "longevity" is sometimes meant to refer only to especially long lived members of a population, whereas "life expectancy" is always defined statistically as the average number of years remaining at a given age.
The word "longevity" is sometimes used as a synonym for "life expectancy" in demography or known as "long life", especially when it concerns someone or something lasting longer than expected.
There are many difficulties in authenticating the longest human life span even by modern verification standards, owing to inaccurate or incomplete birth statistics.
Various factors contribute to an individual's longevity. Significant factors in life expectancy include gender, genetics, access to health care, hygiene, diet and nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and crime rates. Evidence-based studies indicate that longevity is based on two major factors, genetics and lifestyle choices. Twin studies have estimated that approximately 20-30% of an individual's lifespan is related to genetics, the rest is due to individual behaviors and environmental factors which can be modified. In addition, it found that lifestyle plays almost no factor in health and longevity after the age of 80, and that almost everything in advanced age is due to genetic factors.
View our Average Life Expectancy Chart listing average male and female life span by country.
Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men
Women as a rule normally outlive men, and this was as true in pre-industrial times as today. Reasons for this include smaller bodies (and thus less stress on the heart), a stronger immune system (since testosterone acts as an immunosuppressant), and less tendency to engage in physically dangerous activities. It is also theorized that women have an evolutionary reason to live longer so as to help care for grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Oldest Humans Have Lived For:
The Gerontology Research Group validates current longevity records by modern standards, and maintains a list of super-centenarians; many other unvalidated longevity claims exist.
Record-holding individuals include:
- Sarah Knauss (1880-1999, 119 years, 97 days): The second oldest documented person in modern times and the oldest American.
- Christian Mortensen (1882-1998, 115 years, 252 days): the oldest man in history whose age has been verified by modern documentation.
- Jeanne Calment (1875-1997, 122 years, 164 days): the oldest person in history whose age has been verified by modern documentation. This defines the modern human life span, which is set by the oldest documented individual who ever lived.
While various other individuals have lived between 110 and 114 years, the above mentioned people are the only ones known to have lived longer than 114.
Pre 20th century individuals attaining lifespans of 75 years or greater, include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Cato the Elder, Thomas Hobbes, and Michaelangelo.
Will you live longer if you come from a family who have lived long lives
Recent research from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) confirms that severe mortality-associated diseases are less prevalent in the families of long-lived individuals than in the general population. (Are Members of Long-Lived Families Healthier than Their Equally Long-Lived Peers-Evidence from the Long Life Family Study) . An international collaborative study of the genetics and familial components of exceptional survival, longevity, and healthy aging.
Researchers found that seven conditions were significantly less common for siblings in a long-lived family, than for similarly aged controls:
- Hip fracture,
- Prostate cancer,
- Heart failure,
- Chronic kidney disease.
Somewhat in contrast, the LLFS siblings were more likely to be receiving care for arthritis, cataract, osteoporosis, and glaucoma. Spouses, offspring and offspring spouses of these long-lived sib-ships shared in the significantly lower risk for Alzheimer's, diabetes, and heart failure. Thus, both genetic and environmental factors appear to be in play. Since most of the offspring generation are not yet seventy-five, it will be fascinating to see whether this early evidence for a health advantage in both genetic and marital relatives of long-lived families strengthens as the cohort ages.
Is aging a disease? Scientists call for new classification of aging:
In a paper recently published in Frontiers in Genetics, scientists at Insilco Medicine highlight the need for more granular and applied classification of aging in the context of the 11th World Health Organization's (WHO) International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) expected to be finalized in 2018.
The paper explores the evolution of disease classification practices and the progress made since William Cullen's seminal Nosolagae Methodicae synopsis published in 1769. It discusses some of the additions to the ICD-10 including some of the less obvious conditions like obesity that may set the precedent for classifying aging as a disease. While there is clear disagreement among demographers, gerontologists and bio-gerontologists on the subject, classification of aging as a disease is likely to unite both scientists and medical practitioners in the effort to prevent the pathological age-related processes and attract more resources to aging research. In part, the report calls for creating a task force of scientists to more thoroughly evaluate whether to provide a more granular and actionable classification of aging as a disease in ICD-11.
"Aging is a complex multi-factorial process leading to loss of function and a very broad spectrum of diseases. While the notion of whether aging itself is a disease is usually disputed, classifying it as such will help shift the focus of biomedicine from treatment to prevention. Classifying aging as a disease with multiple 'non-garbage' ICD codes may help create business cases for large pharmaceutical companies to focus more R&D resources on this important field. Considering the unprecedented increases in life expectancy and the heavy burden of medical costs in the developed countries, maintaining the human body in the disease-free youthful state for as long as possible is not just an altruistic cause, but a pressing economic necessity", said Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, CEO of Insilico Medicine, Inc.
The paper is available online via the Frontiers open access system at journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fgene.2015.00326/abstract
Paper citation: Zhavoronkov A and Bhullar B (2015) Classifying aging as a disease in the context of ICD-11. Front. Genet. 6:326. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00326
Will Humans Live Longer in the Future
The U.S. Census Bureau view on the future of longevity is that life expectancy in the United States will be in the mid-80s by 2050 (up from 77.85 in 2006) and will top out eventually in the low 90s, barring major scientific advances that can change the rate of human aging itself, as opposed to merely treating the effects of aging as is done today. However, recent increases in the rates of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, may drastically slow or reverse this trend toward increasing life expectancy in the developed world.
Some argue that molecular nanotechnology will greatly extend human life spans. If the rate of increase of life span can be raised with these technologies to a level of twelve months increase per year, this is defined as effective biological immortality and is the goal of radical life extension.
Quick Facts: Longest Living People
- Misao Okawa (born 1898): the oldest living person in the world.
- Sarah Knauss (1880 - 1999, 119 years, 97 days): the second oldest documented person in modern times and the oldest American.
- Geert Adriaans Boomgaard (1788 - 1899, 110 years, 135 days): first person to reach the age of 110 (on September 21, 1898) and whose age could be validated.
- Jiroemon Kimura (1897-2013): celebrated his 116th birthday in April 2013, was the oldest man in history whose age has been verified by modern documentation, and passed away on 12 June 2013.
- Jeanne Calment (1875 - 1997, 122 years, 164 days): the oldest person in history whose age has been verified by modern documentation. This defines the modern human life span, which is set by the oldest documented individual who ever lived.
(The Gerontology Research Group validates current longevity records by modern standards, and maintains a list of super-centenarians)
Statistics: Life Expectancy
Life expectancies in different types of countries:
- Developed countries: 77 - 90 years (e.g. Canada: 81.29 years, 2010 est.)
- Developing countries: 32 - 80 years (e.g. Mozambique: 41.37 years, 2010 est.)
Population longevities increasing as life expectancies grow:
- UK: 80 years in 2002, 81.73 years in 2010
- USA: 77.4 years in 2002, 78.24 years in 2010
- Italy: 79.25 years in 2002, 80.33 years in 2010
- Spain: 79.06 years in 2002, 81.07 years in 2010
- Australia: 80 years in 2002, 81.72 years in 2010
- France: 79.05 years in 2002, 81.09 years in 2010
- Monaco: 79.12 years in 2002, 89.73 years in 2011
- Germany: 77.78 years in 2002, 79.41 years in 2010
Average Life Span Expectancy Chart - How Long Will I Live - Ian Langtree - (2015-02-09)