This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What If We Can't Possibly Live Past Age 122?

Thanks to Rebecca Clark for pointing to a "widely publicized Nature study" that I had admittedly missed last October, but which is now the subject of a lot of controversy, as summarized in Retraction Watch. In their letter (not quite a paper), the authors from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, argue that ever since Jeanne Calmest died in France in 1997 at age 122, there have been on older ages at death. Therefore, the rise in the oldest age at death (which we define as the human lifespan) appears to have leveled off, and maybe will never go above 122.

Two of the key people arguing that this is an unfounded conclusion are Jim Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute for Demography in Germany and Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Both are foremost authorities on the topic of aging and are widely cited in my text. The major point here is that new scientific ways of dealing with aging, including regenerative medicine and other approaches, as I discussed yesterday, offer at least the suggestion that the oldest age at death could be pushed to higher--maybe even a lot higher--ages. To ignore that science seems, well, unscientific...

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