Continue to Increase in both the United States and Britain
two hundred years have seen fantastic gains in life expectancy for
residents of first world countries across the globe. There are a
number of different factors that have contributed to this swift
increase in lifespan over the last two centuries. In the late 1800s
and early 1900s, a number of different changes in the way that first
world citizens lived their lives contributed to extended lifespans:
theory was established in the mid 1800s, and as a result, medical
professionals and average citizens both became more aware of the
importance of cleanliness and became able to avoid disease more
also quickly advanced during this period. As a result of germ
theory, medical professionals recognized the importance of using
sterilized instruments to perform surgeries and other medical
education in first world countries helped circulate all of this
information, in addition to helping people understand the importance
of making efforts to safeguard themselves from various health
dangers that could increase their mortality risk.
living conditions among first world nations reduced the risks
associated with both exposure and living in densely packed, dirty
result of these advancements and others, children and middle-aged
adults were considerably less likely to die of infections and other
common dangers. After these advances reshaped first world life, swift
enhancements in medical science further reduced mortality risk among
these two groups. Vaccinations inoculated children from diseases like
small pox and polio, and the discovery and proliferation of
antibiotics further reduced the risk of infection and prevented
needless deaths from a variety of bacteria-related illnesses.
these advancements took place, mortality risks for younger age groups
more or less bottomed out, with most major mortality risks defeated.
Increased lifespans since the mid-20th century have almost
entirely been the result of medical advances that allow aging men and
women to live longer and healthier lives into their seventies and
beyond. Advancements in the treatment of heart disease, a reduced
incidence of smoking, and improved nutrition are just a few examples
of how men and women are living longer over the past 70 years.
Life Expectancies for Americans in the 21st
last fifteen years in America, average life expectancy continues to
grow among the majority of groups in America. Data on life expectancy
was compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics.
born in 2009 in America can look forward to a lifespan that is 78.5
years old on average. Only a year earlier, the average lifespan was
estimated to be 78.1 years.
Life Expectancies by Demographic
and women experienced gains in average life expectancy. Women still
live longer lives than men, but men have bridged the gap very
slightly. A boy born today would be expected to live 76 years, up
from 75.6 years if they were born a year earlier. A girl born today
would be expected to live 80.9 years, up from 80.6 one year earlier.
numbers were broken down further, all races examined also experienced
an increase in average lifespan:
Whites are now expected to live 78.8 years, up from 78.5
are expected to live 81.2 years, up from 81.0
are expected to life 74.5 years, up from 74.
everyone that is looking forward to a long and healthy life, this is
fantastic news. Life expectancy in the United States continues to
increase for all groups.
with Demographic Disparity in lifespan
David Katz of Yale University is pleased that everyone is living
longer, but is concerned about the gender and racial disparities of
the research. Katz, who was not a member of the team that produced
the report, explained that the disparities between men and women, as
well as between blacks and whites, need to be studied, and steps need
to be taken to correct the disparity.
Americans Also Benefit from Longevity Advances
addition to estimating life expectancies from birth, the Center for
Disease Control also makes estimates regarding the lifespans of
Americans that are already living. They have found that Americans of
all ages experienced at least a slight increase in lifespan between
2008 and 2009. This increase in lifespan was due to the improved
treatment and/or reduced incidence of a variety of different
mortality risks, including stroke, cancer, heart disease, respiratory
illness, and accident.
the mortality risk of these factors declined, there were two primary
areas where mortality risk increased: suicide and chronic liver
disease. These negative influences on lifespan were relatively minor
when compared to the positive influences of other factors.
Increases by Age in 2009:
individual that was 65 years old should live an average of 19.1 more
individual that was 85 years old should live an average of 6.6 more
individual that was 100 years old should live an average of 2.3 more
both living men and women both experienced an increase in lifespan,
they experienced net gains as a result of different factors.
for Lifespan Increase in American by Gender
lived longer as a result of decreased mortality from the following
lived longer as a result of decreased mortality from the following
Life Expectancies Still Increasing
Britain, lifespans are also on the rise. In Great Britain, the
separation between the female and male lifespan continues to shrink
over time, at a similar rate to the United States. In the year 2008,
women lived five years longer than their male counterparts on
average. The gap shrank to 4.9 years in 2009.
of British Life Expectancy
enough, the gap between the male and female lifespan didn't used to
be so stark in Great Britain. In the year 1900, women only lived two
years longer than men, but this difference in average grew
significantly over time. By 1975, women lived 7.8 years longer than
men. There are multiple reasons for this. One reason is that fewer
people were dying during childhood and middle age, where the risks
were much more equal for both sexes. The biggest reason other than
general increased longevity was that men are more at risk for lung
cancer and heart disease, so before medical treatments modernized,
men were much more likely to die early than women.
years between 1979 and 2007, the difference in lifespan dropped
slowly and unsteadily over time until the difference reached five
years. Since 1979, the two factors which brought male and female
lifespans closer together were a slight increase in early deaths
attributed to lung cancer among women and a rapid decrease in the
mortality rate associated with male heart disease.
Increasing Like Clockwork
in Great Britain are still increasing at a relatively fast rate,
which can even be measured by the day. Each day, a child born will
live an average of 5-6 hours longer than a child born the day before.
It's quite an amazing statistic when you think of it in such reduced
terms. Researchers also believe that life expectancies should
continue to increase at a similar rate throughout the next ten years.
After a decade, it is expected that men and women will both live two
full years longer than they do today.
United Kingdom, the human lifespan has been linearly increasing over
the past 210 years. In the year 1800, the average lifespan was only
forty years old! Now, the average lifespan is 81.9 years for women
and 77.7 for males.
Kirkwood, a representative of Newcastle University and the director
of the Institute for Ageing and Health, explains that lifespans in
Great Britain have been getting longer almost like clockwork for over
the past 200 years. What makes this even more fascinating is that the
average human lifespan has been increasing at a similar rate in
pretty much all countries not experiencing a significant health
crisis or violent insurrection.
Britain and the rest of the Western World, the average lifespan of
human beings remained stable for an exceptionally long period of
time: between the era of the Roman Empire and the year 1800. It is
only after this period that lifespans started to increase at a linear
rate. First in Western nations and in the United States, then
progressively throughout the entire world.
Civil Engineering, and Lifespan
that spurred the increase in lifespan was similar in Great Britain as
it was in other first world countries. In the early 1800s, general
health was improved primarily through works of civil engineering.
Housing opportunities improved significantly, an increased emphasis
on clean water spread throughout the country, and better plumbing and
sewage systems became more common. This increased lifespans by
reducing the level of exposure that citizens had to viruses and
Antibiotics Increase Lifespan
end of the 1800s, vaccines were invented and became increasingly
common, further increasing lifespans. The final great change which
really heralded the beginning of modern medicine occurred after World
War II, when antibiotics, most famously penicillin, were able to save
the lives of millions suffering from infections that would have
easily killed them only decades earlier. Before the invention and
proliferation of antibiotics, even a simple scratch could be
absolutely deadly with little to no health recourse if things took a
turn for the worse. Blood poisoning had a very high mortality rate
and there was no simple cure.
went from stable for centuries to rapidly increasing with every new
health innovation that was made public. All of these changes were
able to decrease mortality risk primarily because they prevented
people that would be otherwise healthy from getting sick. Before the
1800s, there were countless factors which led to early mortality
during childhood and early adulthood, and by the mid 1900s, none of
these issues were a factor any longer.
the Elderly Live Longer, More Fulfilling Lives
surprise and delight of medical scientists and researchers that study
aging, there has been no evidence that average lifespans are
increasing at a slower rate. In the 1970s and 1980s, UN
representatives were almost certain that lifespans would start to
increase at a slower rate, particularly since the primary factors
that increased lifespan before the 1950s were related to safeguarding
health during the earlier portions of the lifespan.
believed that lifespans would continue to increase as health care
continued to improve for geriatric patients, they did not expect that
lifespans would continue to increase at such a rate. All signs seemed
to suggest that the average human lifespan would eventually hit a
hard ceiling, but there are no signs to this point suggesting that
that will be the case, at least over the next ten to twenty years.
Future of Longevity is Difficult to Predict
researchers during this period felt that medical science was
approaching its apex, but as they would inevitably discover, life
expectancy would continue to climb as the medical community continued
to figure out new ways to make people healthier, deeper into the
a lot of reasons why lifespans continue to increase linearly. It
appears that one of the primary reasons why we are getting healthier
today is related to nutrition. As we learn more about vitamins,
minerals, and how the human body utilizes them, the average person is
able to make healthier choices which are able to help preserve their
health deeper into the lifespan.
Humans Have a Maximum Lifespan?
been a large contingent of scientists in the recent past that have
argued that human beings simply have a maximum lifespan. They
hypothesized that humans had a maximum lifespan in order to prevent
large numbers of elderly men and women from reducing the overall
health and genetic viability of younger, fertile human beings.
lifespans continue to increase, and our ability to tackle common
illnesses and medical conditions continues to become more effective,
it appears that it is not evolution that inhibits the lifespan, but
the gamut of environmental factors which prevent human beings for
living up to their potential.
Doctors Predict that Current Longevity Increases are Unsustainable
human lifespans still show no signs of slowing, most medical experts
are still not convinced that human lifespans can continue to increase
at such a steady rate. If lifespans continued to increase at the
current rate, the average British citizen would live to 100 by 2100
and to 120 by 2200. Dr. Kirkwood is among the researchers that are
skeptical about steady increased gains for the foreseeable future,
explaining that in his opinion, human lifespans will increase by
another ten years before plateauing for the foreseeable future. He
does recognize, however, that the medical community has been wrong in
the past, and he admits that anything is possible.
expert on the process of aging, Doctor Lynne Cox of Oxford, shares
Dr. Kirkwood's opinion. She is relatively certain that lifespan
increases will start to slow down over the coming decades. She feels
that average lifespans will start to plateau as a result of diseases
of choice such as diabetes and obesity which will start to have a
negative impact on human health that starts to counteract consistent
gains that have occurred over time.
that the big question with regard to longevity in the next thirty
years is whether men and women that are in their teens, twenties, and
thirties today will choose to control their weight more effectively
in order to improve their long term health and longevity.
Potential Impact of Future Medical Technologies on Lifespan
in the 19th
century, changes in sanitation increased lifespans at a steady rate.
In the late 19th
and early 20th
century, advances in germ theory and vaccination increased lifespans.
In the mid-20th
century, antibiotics were the primary factor which helped us live
longer. Over the past 65 years, we have been living longer as a
result in better geriatric care and an increased emphasis on good
will be the next factor which increases lifespans?
That's an excellent question that will inevitably be answered
definitively over the course of the next twenty to fifty years. Will
humans choose to eat and live smarter and healthier lives? That will
likely play a significant role.
Health and Longevity
Some of the most significant scientific hurdles to the next stage of
longevity are related to neurological health. We are getting better
at preserving the heart, the lungs, and the cardiovascular system,
but neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Dementia are
preventing countless men and women from reaching the century mark.
The good thing is that medical advances in these neurological
disorders seem to suggest that we will inevitably cure these
diseases, relieving another negative pressure on geriatric health and
Balance and Longevity
Another factor that will inevitably increase human lifespan is an
increased emphasis on positive health and hormone balance. Decades of
research suggest that hormone deficiencies such as Human Growth
Hormone Deficiency and Testosterone Deficiency increase the speed at
which aging occurs, preventing people from maximizing their lifespan.
Testosterone and HGH are both incredibly important hormones which
encourage strong metabolism and healthy cellular function.
is evidence that Hormone Replacement Therapy may play a role in
alleviating issues such as obesity, heart disease, and even
neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and general
cognitive decline that significantly hinder 21st
Another future barrier to longevity appears to be the phenomenon of
telomere-shortening. Telomeres are like the aglets which hold
shoelaces together. Telomeres are Junk DNA attached to the ends of
our chromosomes which hold our important genetic code in place. As
the telomeres shorten, the risk of genetic mutation increases over
time. Each time that a cell undergoes replication, the telomeres
shorten ever so slightly.
There is groundbreaking research regarding telomeres being performed
today, in which scientists may have engineered a way to support and
sustain telomeres, reducing the incidence of genetic mutation and
therefore reducing the incidence of age-related genetic mutations
which lead to cancer and life-threatening disorders.
Engineering and Longevity
Telomere Lengthening is just one form of Genetic Engineering and
Modification which can potentially increase lifespans in the near
future. As we learn more about how to influence the human genetic
code, we may eventually be able to turn off genetic mutations which
lead to increased breast cancer risk or other medical risks. The
faster we learn about how genetic predisposition affects health and
longevity, the sooner that we will be able to create genetic
engineering strategies to combat these negative influences on health
Future of Longevity May be in the Hands of the Patient
Medical researchers have every right to be skeptical regarding the
potential for lifespans to increase indefinitely over time, but in
the past, whenever they have hypothesized that humans will slowly
start to plateau in life expectancy, they have been pleasantly proven
The future of health, wellness, and longevity appears to largely be
in the hands of the patient in the near future. Although scientists
can come up with cures for various diseases and disorders,
lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and lung
cancer will be the factors which have the most significant medical
impact on lifespan.
There is significant potential that, over the next one hundred years,
lifestyle choices will be the predominant factors which contribute to
average lifespan. Those that choose to live healthy will continue to
have the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives, and those
that succumb to vice will pay for it both by getting sicker more
often and literally aging more quickly.
Men and women that choose to live conscientiously will be afforded
the opportunity to live to achieve their ultimate potential, while
those that languish in the small pleasures of cigarettes, drugs,
sloth, and fatty foods will fall further and further behind,
depressing average lifespan overall but ultimately not impacting the
health of those that choose to live a responsible lifestyle.
Want to Live Longer?
What do you see in your own future? Are you content to live a life of
vice and short term pleasure or do you want to live a long and happy
life where you have risen above the small and petty pleasures that
vice offers you?