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Nothing new here. If you don't die from the usual stuff (heart disease and cancer) our bodies slowly accumulate damage and we lose muscle, immune function, and stem cells, amyloids build up, etc.  All basic SENS stuff that has been known for decades.  Until we get next gen therapies, we will continue to die ;)

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I agree with Gordo on the basic point; still, the Vijg piece has overreached and somewhat "forced" the data even on the question of whether and where we're approaching this limit. See this valuable critique:

The most important line graph (here the uppermost) in the Nature article ... illustrates how old the oldest living people lived to be from 1968 on. The graph is based on data from the International Database on Longevity, or IDL. In Vijg’s opinion, the line graph shows a turning point around 1995. The trend is first towards increasing age (blue), followed by a slight decrease (orange).

071016IHN_Longlived.jpg“You don’t need statistics to explain something you can see with your own eyes,” Vijg says. The turning point was hit somewhere around 115 years of age, back in 1995. In other words: we’ve already hit peak age.

An important bit of information: Vijg assumed this break in the trend in advance, he told NRC on the phone ... Vijg then had the computer calculate two underlying ‘trends’, one for the period before 1995 and one for after. These are the lines seen on the graph.

That’s not how these things are supposed to be done.

“No,” confirms statistician Van der Heijden. “You need to have solid theoretical substantiation before you start. When you infer that kind of turnaround using only the data, there’s a good chance that what you’re seeing is mere coincidence.”

One such coincidence is the data ‘dot’ representing Jeanne Calment, who with her 122 years was – coincidentally – absurdly old. The supposed decline in longevity reported by Vijg is based on Calment and just eleven others: very scant data, in other words. Van der Heijden sees additional, more technical errors (“now that you’ve got me started…”), which we won’t be addressing here.


“Our statistics department assured us this was correct,” Vijg counters. “And two of the peer reviewers from Nature are demographers themselves. They’re in a position to know, right?”


What’s remarkable is that Jan Vijg had a second, more extensive database of longest-living old people at his disposal: that of the Gerontological Research Group (GRG). In this graph (line graph in the middle), which appears only in the appendix of the publication, the reversal in trend is less apparent than before.


When the colours and slanting lines are omitted, and the maximum age reached by the individuals are not rounded off, little remains of the supposed turnaround. As coincidence would have it, NRC’s own infographic maker Erik van Gameren created a line graph using the same data as this one (the lowest of the three) last spring. Van Gameren: “My graph says something completely different. Aren’t the oldest living people actually getting older all the time?”


Rudi Westendorp suspects that the latter conclusion is correct. “I see a continuous line, one that moves upward.” Before Copenhagen, until two years ago, Westendorp was Professor of Geriatric Medicine in Leiden.


Population surveys show the same thing, he adds.  ... [And] a Danish publication that appeared in The Lancet in 2013 (in which he had no part) ... [found that] The more recent group of superannuated individuals had clearly retained more function than their predecessors.


Westendorp: “Vijg is focusing only on the small group that achieves extreme longevity; it’s like looking at Olympic medallist Sven Kramer and drawing conclusions about the development of Dutch speedskating. Studies that examine a much larger pool of people in advanced old age show that the life expectancy of people, even the very oldest, continues to increase.”

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