How long is the potential life expectancy of humans?


They are called “supercentarians”, those who live to be over 100 years old.

They’re few and far between, but a new study says potentially more people could live well beyond 100.

Siegfried Hekimi (PhD) is a professor of genetics at McGill University leading the Hekimi Lab in the department of biology in the Faculty of Science. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Seigfried Hekimi (PhD) is co-author of the McGill study.

A study last year by other scientists concluded that the average maximum life expectancy of a human, a biological limit, would be around 115 years old. This new study says an upper limit is not known but it could be much higher.

The study by the McGill professors Hekimi and Bryan G. Hughes published in the June 28 edition of the online science journal Nature is entitled “Many possible maximum lifespan trajectories”.  (abstract HERE)

About 100 years ago, the average life expectancy of a Canadian was about 60 years of age.  By the 1980’s that had increased to about 76, and today it’s about 82.  Maximum ages seem to follow this upward trend of average life expectancy.


Jeanne Calment, pictured in 1995 when she was 120 years old, holds the Guinness World Record for living the longest. She died in 1997 at age 122.  A study last year said there was a biological limit of about 115 years for humans, a new study says it’s probably older.
Jeanne Calment, pictured in 1995 when she was 120 years old, holds the Guinness World Record for living the longest. She died in 1997 at age 122. © Jean-Paul Pelisser/Reuters

Professor Hekimi agrees that medical advances play a role in allowing a better life into old age, but he says really other factors are at play in increases in life expectancy.

He says in developed countries, we are becoming better and better at controlling our environment, resulting in less stress on the body.  We control heating and cooling in our buildings, our work is generally far less arduous, we vaccinate against diseases,  and  e have access to better diets all year round, and better hygiene. All of this results in less wear and tear and stress on the body.

He says current “supercentarians” have lived the early part of their lives under more stressful conditions in the early 1900’s and have managed to make it past 100, but young people born this century have experienced generally none of that harshness or hardship on their bodies and so in theory they have the potential to live even longer, i.e. push a biological limit higher.

Emma Morano, thought to be the world’s oldest person and the last to be born in the 1800s, blows out candles during her 117th birthday in Verbania, northern Italy, Nov. 29, 2016.  She passed away in 2017.
Emma Morano, was thought to be the world’s oldest person and the last to be born in the 1800s, blows out candles during her 117th birthday in Verbania, northern Italy, Nov. 29, 2016. She passed away in April of this year © Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

Professor Hekimi says there may be a biological limit to the human body, but says it is possibly higher than 115 years, and we just don’t know what the limit will be until more data is gathered as generations age and maximums plateau.

As to whether technology might find a way to prevent the body from breaking down and thus prolong life indefinitely, he says many things that seemed impossible years ago, are not possible, but on the other hand he says, “I wouldn’t hold my breath”.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Health, Internet, Science and Technology

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


One comment on “How long is the potential life expectancy of humans?
  1. Peter Ashcroft says:

    My father was over 101 when he passed away; My mother reached 95. Both older than their respective parents.