“The more scientists learn about how we age, the more likely they are to recalibrate the clock. But that poses another question: Should they?”
Illustration by Liana Farmer
by Liz Stinson
“Humans are born with an expiration date. From the moment of conception, we’re assigned a shared fate — that someday, in some way, we all die. It used to come earlier. In ancient Roman times, people could expect to live 30 to 35 years. By the mid-20th century, life expectancy in the United States had risen to 65 for men and 71 for women. Today, the average American life span hovers around 78 years, though that’s far from the bounds of what is possible.
“Scientists believe that the capacity of the human body currently reaches its limits at around 115 years old. But most people fall short of that due to the ailments and vulnerabilities that accompany old age, a fact that has been tragically underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what if it was possible to reach that outer edge? Just think about that delta for a second: 80 versus 115. “That leaves 35 years to realize,” says Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and author of Age Later (St. Martin’s Press). Barzilai is part of a growing cadre of scientists studying longevity — why we age, how our bodies break down, how it affects our well-being and quality of life, and what we can do to slow the process. These scientists believe in a future where interventions will forestall our physiological wear and tear, effectively making us better resistant to age-related diseases and, yes, maybe even pandemics.
“Extending life span is rooted deep in the human psyche.” Keep reading this article at Allure, click here.