A study linking Viagra to a “reduced risk of death”…and specialists are skeptical

With the death of the dean of humanity, the French nun Andre, at the age of 118, last week, the issue of longevity in humans continues to raise divisions among researchers, with a question that especially occupies their thinking: Is the duration of our existence biologically limited, or can humans live indefinitely?

At the end of the eighteenth century, the French natural historian Georges de Buffon considered that a person in good health who had not suffered any accident or suffered from any disease in his life could live up to the age of one hundred years as a maximum.

And very few people were 100 years old at the time. But with the improvement of living conditions and medical progress, hypotheses about the extreme limits of human life were gradually excluded.

And in 1995, a new threshold was crossed when Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment celebrated her 120th birthday. And after she died in 1997 at the age of 122, Kalman is still the person who lived the longest life in human history, among the people whose age was verified in civil records.

More generally, since 1950, the number of people aged 100 and above has increased ten times every ten years, reaching 27,500 people by the end of 2021, according to the National Institute for Housing Studies.

The number of these people, the majority of whom are women, may become seven times higher in the year 2060. This increase is associated with the emergence of the term “super-senescent” since the eighties of the last century, which are people at the age of 110 years and over, which raises questions about the maximum limits of possible human life. Biologically.

However, the subject raises a division among researchers. On the one hand, there are those who defend the idea that life span is limited by biological factors.

In an article published in Nature in 2016, geneticists showed that there has been no improvement in human life span since the end of the 1990s.

Drawing on population data, the researchers note that since Jean Calment’s death, the maximum human lifespan has declined, even though the number of elderly people in the world is increasing. Demographics Jean-Marie Robin, who specializes in people at the age of 100, told AFP that the researchers “concluded that human life naturally has a maximum duration and that longevity has limits of about 115 years.”

However, he pointed out that “this hypothesis is challenged by a large number of population scientists.”

Hence, a study, the results of which were published in 2018 in the journal “Science”, supports the idea that the death rate increases with age, but it slows down from the age of 85 years, and reaches a higher ceiling at 50% or 60% annually by the age of one hundred and seven.

With this theory, “if there are 12 people in 110-year-olds, there will be 6 in 111-year-olds, 3 in 112-year-olds, and so forth,” according to Rubin. But with the “100 people at the age of 100, there will be 50 at the age of 111, and 25 at the age of 112 … Thanks to the “size effect”, there are no longer fixed limits to life span.

But in a French study, the results of which are expected to be published this year, the French demographer and his team show that death rates continue to increase in people over the age of 105 years.

Does that support the idea that there are biological limits to existence? Robin doesn’t go that far.

He expects that “we will continue to make discoveries, as is usually the case, and gradually improve the health status of older people.”

Many researchers like him prefer a cautious approach. “Despite the steady increase, the numbers of people of very old ages are still very limited and therefore we cannot draw meaningful statistical estimates,” Frances Millais, director of research at the National Institute of Population Studies, told AFP.

Ultimately, one has to wait until the number of people over 110 years of age is high enough to draw lessons from it.

Finally, some gerontologists, including scientist Eric Boulanger, do not rule out other factors entering the equation in the coming years. He points out to AFP that possible “genetic modifications” may extend the lives of some to 140 or 150 years.

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