Human Life Span Has a Limit, Study Finds

December 13, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. life span / ˈlaɪf.spæn / (n.) – the length of time that a living thing is expected to live
Example: The average life span of dogs is 10 to 13 years.

2. plateau / plæˈtoʊ / (v.) – to reach a level where there can be no or very little change
Example: The company had to improve its marketing strategy after its sales plateaued.

3. ceiling / ˈsi lɪŋ / (n.) – the top limit of something
Example: She can no longer get a salary increase since she reached the ceiling for her position.   

4. outlive / ˌaʊtˈlɪv / (v.) – to live longer than someone
Example: The oldest brother outlived his younger brother.

5. hardwired / ˈhɑrdˈwaɪərd / (adj.) – to be innate or natural to someone
Example: The human brain is hardwired for learning.


Read the text below.
A new study suggests that humans have a maximum life span of 115 years.

Scientists from the Albert Einstein /ˈæl bərt ˈaɪn staɪn / College of Medicine in New York examined demographic data from 41 countries worldwide. Their findings revealed that although an increasing number of people reached 70 over the last century, human life expectancy has plateaued at 115 years in 1980.

So far, only Jeanne Calment, a woman who died in 1997 at the age of 122, has surpassed said age ceiling. Scientists claim that despite today’s medical advancements, the chances of a person outliving her is 1 in 1,000.

According to the study’s lead researcher, the age ceiling is biologically hardwired to the human body. As people age, essential human organs sustain damages that usually result to illnesses experienced at old age. However, people who do not develop these diseases die simply because of natural causes—that is, their bodily functions naturally fail because of damages accumulated by their cells through the years. Supercentenarians, or people who live beyond 110 years old like Calment, usually die this way.

Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical expert, agrees with the results of the study. However, he is hopeful about the effects of future medicine on the life span of humans. 

On the other hand, a professor who was not involved in the study offered a different opinion. He said that the findings do not prove that humans cannot live past the age of 122. He claims that based on another study done on mice, there can be a possibility for human life to be extended. The study showed that reducing the body’s calorie intake lengthened the mice’s life span.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the scientists’ findings? Why or why not?
·         Why is it important to study the maximum life span of humans?

Discussion B

·         What do you think is the future of medicine in terms of aging? Discuss.
·         Will it make a big difference if the human life span is prolonged further? Defend your answer. 

December 13, 2016