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Researchers Say Human Lifespans Have Already Hit Their Peak

An anonymous reader quotes Newsweek:
We have reached our peak in terms of lifespan, athletic performance and height, according to a new survey of research and historical records… “These traits no longer increase, despite further continuous nutritional, medical, and scientific progress,” said Jean-FranÃois Toussaint, a physiologist at Paris Descartes University, France, in a press release… For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, a team of French scientists, including Toussaint, from a range of fields analyzed 120 years’ worth of historical records and previous research to gauge the varying pace of changes seen in human athletic performance, human lifespan and human height. While, as they observe, the 20th century saw a surge in improvements in all three areas that mirrored industrial, medical and scientific advances, the pace of those advances has slowed significantly in recent years.

The team looked at world records in a variety of sports, including running, swimming, skating, cycling and weight-lifting. Olympic athletes in those sports continually toppled records by impressive margins from the early 1900s to the end of the 20th century, according the study. But since then, Olympic records have shown just incremental improvements. We have stopped not only getting faster and stronger, according to the study, but also growing taller… [D]ata from the last three decades suggest that heights have plateaued among high-income countries in North America and Europe… As for our human lifespan, life expectancy in high-income countries rose by about 30 years from 1900 to 2000, according to a National Institutes of Health study cited by the authors, thanks to better nutrition, hygiene, vaccines and other medical improvements. But we may have maxed out our biological limit for longevity. The researchers found that in many human populations, says Toussaint, “it’s more and more difficult to show progress in lifespan despite the advances of science.”


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