150 years old: how the quest for eternal life found its natural limit

Name: 150 years old.

Age: 150 years old.

Appearance: The new threescore and ten.

What does that mean? Threescore and ten, or 70 years, was the old biblical measure of your allotted time on earth. And 150 is the latest measure.

You mean we’re all going to live to be 150? No. It’s just that 150 is as long as anyone is ever going to live.

Who says? A new study published in Nature Communications, which analysed medical data from hundreds of thousands of volunteers, boiling them down to a single measurement of ageing, the dynamic organism state indicator.

What did they learn? Their findings suggest the human body’s progressive loss of physiological resilience – the ability to recover from illness and other stress factors – reaches a critical point, resulting in “a fundamental or absolute limit of human lifespan” somewhere about 150 years.

That’s ridiculous. Did this study include any vampires? Not knowingly. Anyway, this is supposed to be good news. 150 is almost double the current UK life expectancy.

I know, but I assumed that by the time I got to 80, they would have extended it to somewhere between 900 and for ever. Don’t fret. A startup is developing treatments that could extend limits on lifespan dramatically.

For everyone? No, for dogs. The startup, operating under the brand name Loyal, is embarking on a study of more than 500 dogs, and hopes to have specific anti-ageing treatments for pets within three years.

What’s the current maximum age for a dog? The oldest verified canine was an australian cattle dog called Bluey, who died at the age of 29 in 1939. More recently, there have been unverified reports of dogs living to 30.

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And what’s that in human years? 210, give or take.

You mean my dog is going to live longer than I am? Well no, because a dog year is equivalent to seven human years, and even that’s an unreliable approximation of …

This is an outrage! At this rate my dog will have to pay to have me put down. Focus on the positive – a study of canine longevity could ultimately be of benefit to us all. “Dogs are one of the best models of human ageing,” says Loyal’s founder, Celine Halioua.

In that case, my dog says he would like to volunteer for trials. What a good boy.

Do say: “Stay active, maintain a healthy weight, die anyway.”

Don’t say: “Eat more meat, chase more cars.”



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