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Scientists: Life Expectancy Has Skyrocketed In Past Century

100th Birthday Cake (credit: CBS 2)

100th Birthday Cake (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Is 72 the new 30?

According to some new research out of Germany, a 72-year-old today can expect to live as many more years as a 30-year-old would have in our not-so-distant past.

That is on top of existing statistics that finds that a child born today has the best odds of living to a 100 years old or more than at any other time in human history.

A study out of the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that over the past century, life expectancy has risen faster than it did in the previous 200,000 years.

That means newborns can expect to live well into the next century, CBS 2′s Don Dahler reported.

“A hundred years seems a stretch but it’s obviously possible,” said a new mother.

The study looked at Swedish and Japanese men who have the longest life expectancy today, and contrasted that data with chimpanzees in captivity who have similar lifespans to pre-humans and modern hunter-gatherers.

It concluded that people alive in the year 1800, such as Abolitionist John Brown, Napoleon Bonaparte, or then newly-elected President John Adams, had more in common longevity-wise to our ancient relatives than to someone alive today.

In other words, President Adams or one of those primitive hunter-gatherers at age 30 had the same odds of dying that a 72-year-old Swedish or Japanese man faces today.

The main reason is better health care, including things like vaccines, antibiotics and clean water.

“We’re doing much better. In 1900, when somebody was born they were expected to live to about the age of 50,” geriatrician Dr. Joyce Fogel said.

What the study didn’t address was the thorny question of limited resources. With more people living longer, most say the main factor becomes the quality of that long life.

The researchers said they simply don’t know what the upper limit of human longevity could be, but that mortality is more capable of being manipulated than anyone had imagined.

What do you consider to be an optimal life expectancy? Let us know in the comments section below…