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What affects our life expectancy?
The general life expectancy in Germany continues to rise. Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that newborn girls on average now live to be around 83 years old. Boys who are born in this day and age reach at least 78 years of age. Everyone has a kind of genetic make-up. This has a huge impact on our overall life expectancy. Whether a person will live to be 70 years old or whether this person will live 30 years longer and therefore reach an age of 100 years is closely linked to genetic make-up, explained researcher Karl Lenhard Rudolph, scientific director of the Leibniz Institute for Aging Research. According to him, the increase in life expectancy will eventually reach its limit, according to the news agency "dpa".
Certainly, many people already had the thought that they had grown old and the body was starting to stop working properly. What exactly happens to our body when we age and when does this state begin? When our body has reached its maximum functionality, it slowly begins to degrade. This process begins in humans around the age of 25. From this point on, the function of our organs gradually deteriorates. This can be seen clearly in professional sports. There are hardly any old professional athletes in most sports. There are hardly any professionals playing in football who are over 30 years old. The body simply breaks down too quickly, so it is very difficult to keep up with younger players.
At the age of forty, the body breaks down considerably
As we get older, diseases develop more and more and the immune system weakens. Surely almost every older person has noticed that more and more minor complaints develop and that it usually takes a little longer to recover from illnesses. Physical strain becomes more difficult the older the person gets. What is all this about? It is known today that our stem cells have a massive impact on our health and regeneration. These cells take on important tasks in the maintenance and regeneration of human organs and our tissues. But the strength of stem cells continues to decrease over the course of our lives. Our cells function optimally between the ages of 25 and 30 years. At this age, the human body was set to reproduce, the researchers told the news agency "dpa". As the body ages, there are more and more small problems. From the age of 40, disorders of our body functions occur, triggered by misdirected internal signals. Genes start to work poorly and the chance of mutations increases. Due to these dominant changes in the genetic makeup, the cells would begin to become increasingly unstable, the scientists added to the “dpa”.
Life expectancy increases, but what about our health?
People have always dreamed of immortality. Eternal health and enduring youth would surely not reject anyone. But what does it look like in reality? Our life expectancy is increasing. But does this also increase the number of years that we are sick and frail? Or do we stay healthy overall longer these days and automatically gain more years with full health due to an older age? A variety of factors are responsible for how our aging process works. There are endogenous mechanisms that can lead to dysfunction through the process of aging. These could trigger an increased risk of cancer.
In the near future, it is likely that ever new studies will enable doctors to better understand such processes and then slow them down therapeutically, the researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Aging Research explained. The scientists added to the news agency "dpa" that it was possible to strengthen immune functions at an advanced age or to lower the risk of cancer. However, everyone has to realize that we do not have the ability to completely prevent aging. The dpa quoted the researcher Karl Rudolph, however, that there would be realistic possibilities of how certain illnesses could be better treated or maybe even completely defeated. That would not make us immortal, but the number of our healthy life years would increase.
Average life expectancy doubled
Over the past 200 years, life expectancy has increased by approximately 0.25 years annually. It is not likely that this process will continue. Because that would mean that in a thousand years people would be about 250 years older than today. The scientist explained a view that was unrealistic. Today, many diseases that were previously fatal can be cured with medication and therapy. For example, child mortality has dropped significantly in most countries. There have always been people who have grown particularly old. In the past, there were individual people who lived to be ninety or even a hundred. But these were and are rather exceptions. The maximum life expectancy has remained approximately the same. One could say that it was not the maximum life expectancy that doubled, but the average mean life expectancy, the scientists said.
The increase in life expectancy will eventually peak. The oldest known woman in the world was 122 years old. If there is an increase, it will be minimal. How old a person gets depends mainly on their genes. Although it is possible to reach the maximum limit of our life expectancy, we are unable to postpone it, Rudolph told the "dpa".
Significant influence on aging through healthy lifestyle
Do other factors, such as our environment or psyche, affect our maximum age? There's no way we can trick our genes into making us get older every 20 years from now on. However, we have the option of strengthening our general health, for example through our diet or exercise. Even by not using cigarettes and alcohol, we can have a significant impact on our aging process.
Thus, we do not extend our maximum age, but we live a healthy life longer than our normal life expectancy. For example, if a person would normally live to be 80 years old, a healthy lifestyle would not make them 100 years old. But the same person wouldn't live to be 80 if they had an unhealthy lifestyle, the researcher said. (As)