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How old can we possibly get?

Written by Diane Archer

How old can we possibly get? While Americans are not living as long as people in other wealthy countries, we are living about eight years longer than 50 years ago. Meghana Keshavan reports for Stat News on a new study published in Science, which finds that after we get to the ripe old age of 105, the odds of our dying from one year to the next plateaus.

Researchers at University of California, Berkeley analyzed data from nearly 4,000 Italians over the age of 105. They observed that after 105, people’s likelihood of dying levels out. Their findings counter a 2016 study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, published in Nature, which found that we could not live longer than about the age of 115.

Our likelihood of dying increases as we age until we turn 80. If we live past 80, our risk of death continues to increase, but more slowly, with each passing year. At 105, the risk of death levels out, meaning that whether you are 105 or 110, you have the same risk of death. Even at age 115, with technological advances, you have the same risk of death and could live much longer.

While average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. (78.7 years) is lower today than in most other high-income countries, it is projected to worsen. In 2030, U.S. life expectancy is expected to be on a par with the Czech Republic for men, and Croatia and Mexico for women. The U.S. has the highest child and maternal mortality, homicide rate, and body-mass index of all wealthy countries. Researchers suggest that lower life expectancy in the U.S.–and even declining life expectancy for some populations–stems in part from our lack of universal health coverage.

Remember, the top predictor for a longer life is social relationships, family and friends, buddies. Some experts say that people with a plant-based diet, who are socially engaged and have purpose, live longer. There are ten times as many centenarians in Sardinia than in the US. These Sardinians are surrounded by multi-generations of family members and friends.

Note: The latest study on living longer recommends drinking five or fewer alcoholic beverages a week.

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