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Scientists Have Bad News for Our Plans to Defy Aging

Big international study looks at mortality patterns among primates
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2021 11:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – You can stop looking for the fountain of youth now. It does not exist, according to new research, which finds it’s likely impossible to slow the rate of aging due to biological constraints. While that might seem like a foregone conclusion, an unprecedented study brought together scientists from 42 institutions in 14 countries to test the theory that species face a relatively fixed rate of aging from adulthood. This involved monitoring 30 species of primates over decades so their lifespans could be compared to those of humans. The same general pattern of mortality—a high risk of death in infancy, followed by a rapid decline into early adulthood, then a constant rise with advanced age—appeared across populations of gorillas, baboons, chimpanzees, and guenons in the wild and in zoos, as well as modern and historical human populations, including hunter-gatherers, per the Guardian.

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This suggests that "rather than slowing down death, more people are living much longer due to a reduction in mortality at younger ages," Oxford University researcher José Manuel Aburto says in a release. He notes life expectancy in 17th-century Europe was low because many people died young. "More people get to live much longer now," thanks to "medical, social, and environmental improvements." But "the trajectory towards death in old age has not changed." Indeed, "this study suggests evolutionally biology trumps everything." Basically "human death is inevitable … no matter how many vitamins we take, how healthy our environment is or how much we exercise," co-lead author Fernando Colchero of the University of Southern Denmark says in another release. He leaves a little hope for those aiming to live forever, though, noting scientific advances might yet achieve "what evolution could not." (Read more aging process stories.)

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