Father Time is undefeated, but a study suggests a human can extend the game of life to 150 years before nature takes its course.
"We conclude that the criticality resulting in the end of life is an intrinsic biological property of an organism that is independent of stress factors and signifies a fundamental or absolute limit of human lifespan," a group of Singapore scientists wrote from their study.
The limit of life is calculated to be between 120 and 150 years, according to the research that used longitudinal analysis of blood markers revealing progressive loss of resilience in human cells.
"They are asking the question of 'What's the longest life that could be lived by a human complex system if everything else went really well, and it's in a stressor-free environment?'" Duke University's Heather Whitson, not involved in the research, told Scientific American.
Whitson noted the study found a "pace of aging" that sets a limit on how long life can ultimately be expected to last.
"Death is not the only thing that matters," she added. "Other things, like quality of life, start mattering more and more as people experience the loss of them."
Extending life is not as important as extending the quality years, she noted, saying the study examined "the ultimate lingering death" but "the question is: Can we extend life without also extending the proportion of time that people go through a frail state?"
The study found as age increased, the body's ability to bring human blood cells to balance decreased when presented with a disruption like an illness, disease, or other environmental factors – what it terms as "resilience."
"Our study provides evidence suggesting that late in life the organism state dynamics is dominated by features that originate from the proximity of the critical point, corresponding to the vanishing resilience," the authors wrote. "The exact parameters, such as maximum lifespan, are the results of extrapolations yielding the estimate in the range of 100–150 years."
Scientific American noted the longest recorded life was a 122-year-old, Jeanne Calment, who died in France in 1997.
"The focus shouldn't be on living longer but on living healthier longer," University of Illinois at Chicago's S. Jay Olshansky told the magazine, adding the study's "final conclusion is interesting to see."
"Hey, guess what? Treating diseases in the long run is not going to have the effect that you might want it to have. These fundamental biological processes of aging are going to continue."
Ostensibly, Father Time can be taken to extra innings, but ultimately it always wins.
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