Scientists think they have found the maximum human lifespan

1 Sep 2017

Image: kongsak sumano/Shutterstock

Using the power of statistics, a team of Dutch scientists believes it has found the maximum age a person can reach naturally.

Some of Silicon Valley’s billionaires might want to live forever but, for the average person, there is only so old you can get before you reach the ‘ceiling’ for human lifespan.

That’s according to AFP (via, which cites a team of Dutch researchers that went through the data of 75,000 people over the past 20 years and applied an ‘extreme value theory’.

The exact ages of the subjects were recorded at the time of their death, and, based on the team’s findings, the maximum age a woman can reach was calculated at 115.7 years, while men were given 114.1 years.

The team concluded that while people are getting older, the number of people older than, say, 95 has remained quite low.

“On average, people live longer, but the very oldest among us have not gotten older over the last thirty years,” said Prof John Einmahl, a member of the research team.

“There is certainly some kind of a wall here. Of course the average life expectancy has increased.”

Value in extreme value theory

The extreme value theory implemented by the team is typically used to come to conclusions on topics of long-term events, such as human lifespan or major disasters.

One of the most obvious challenges to this research is the example of Jeanne Calment, a French woman who is believed to be the oldest person ever recorded, at 122 years and 164 days. However, Einmahl said that some people simply manage to escape the statistical trends.

Last year, a US team used its own statistical model to come to a similar conclusion in terms of a maximum age, but also revealed findings that people are not getting as old as the decades go on. However, Einmahl’s team said that its model suggests there won’t be any fluctuations in a human’s maximum lifespan.

One area that could influence how long we live, though, is our diet, as found out in a fascinating piece published earlier this year.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic