Advances in modern medicine and adopting a healthy lifestyle have offered us the hope of not only living a long life, but one with quality.

According to an analysis recently published in the Lancet journal (1), a continued increase in life expectancy may be on the horizon for our future generations. The study applied an innovative mathematical model based on data gathered between 1981 and 2012 in England and Wales. The model predicted that children born 15 years from now are anticipated to live over 85 years on average (i.e., 85.7 years for men and 87.6 for women). This is an increase of approximately 6 years for men, and 4 years for women, based on the average life expectancies at birth reported in the UK (i.e., 79.5 years for men and 83.3 years for women as of 2012) (1).

The study was based on a UK population (and a unique kind of analysis), and so its predictions would not necessarily be representative of the rest of the world, where average life expectancy for men and women born in 2012 is 68.1 and 72.7 years (2). How the lifespan of people born in other regions of the world might compare with those forecasted for the UK study population in 2030 is yet to be understood.

It is incredible to think of this forecasted longevity, when the life expectancy of most babies born at the turn of the 20th century was less than 50 years of age (3). However, predictions such as those in the Lancet article are only as accurate as the death rates captured during the study years allow (4). Any future societal upheavals or major advances are uncertain, and are impossible to build into such models (i.e., natural disasters or medical cures). Only with an optimism that major destructive forces are behind us can we consider that the predicted increase in life expectancy may one day materialize.

People living today can only hope to be swept along in the tide of longevity predicted to come in 2030. That is, if this longevity is accompanied by good quality of life.

By: Geula Bernstein

References:

  1. Bennett JE, Li G, Foreman K, Best N, Kontis V, Pearson C, Hambly P, Ezzati M. The future of life expectancy and life expectancy inequalities in England and Wales: Bayesian spatiotemporal forecasting. Lancet. 2015 Apr 29. pii:S0140-6736(15)60296-3. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60296-3. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed PMID: 25935825. Available at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2960296-3/fulltext. Accessed: May 12, 2015.
  1. World Health Organization. World Health Statistics 2014. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/world-health-statistics-2014/en/. Accessed: May 12, 2015.
  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute on Aging. Global Health and Aging. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/research/publication/global-health-and-aging/living-longer. Accessed: May 12, 2015.
  1. NHS Choices. UK life expectancy expected to rise to late 80s by 2030. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/04April/Pages/UK-life-expectancy-expected-to-rise-to-late-80s-by-2030.aspx. Accessed: May 12, 2015.