One of the great desires of mankind is eternal life. Texts like the Bible or the Sumerian clay tablets speak of people who lived for hundreds of years, such as Adam, Methuselah or Noah. Unfortunately, we know that these are just myths and not reality. In fact, a team led by Jan Vig of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York has recently published a study in the journal Nature which affirms that the maximum limit a human can live is 125 years. Only the French woman Jeanne Calment, the longest-lived person known to date, and who lived to 122 years, has come close to this age.
Since 1900, the average life span globally has risen from 31 years of age to more than 70, due to dramatic reductions in new born and childhood mortality, vaccines and effective antibiotics for many major viruses and infections, vastly improving hygiene, far better access to clean water and food and, in general, greater concern for the care of the body, mainly as we get older. Currently, life expectancy is above 80 years for nearly 30 countries.
In fact, there are already experts, such as James Vaupel, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany), who assert that “there is no scientific evidence for the limits to human life“. Nowadays, we only can demonstrate that, since the beginning of the 20th century, “every 40 years, we have increased our life expectancy by almost 10“. Clearly, one of the great issues that we are now facing is that, in many cases, quality of health or “health span” does not accompany these increased life spans and only through healthier lifestyles and more proactive and preventive medicine can people reach these ages maintaining physical and mental autonomy.
In this context, telomere measurement, represents a broad biomarker of organismal health that can support the early identification of chronic and age-related diseases and thus offer the opportunity for preventive interventions. A decisive step that, although it does not lead us to immortality, will allow us to live longer years and, above all, to do so with a greatly increased quality of life.