Life expectancy increases are slowing around the world, new research suggests.
Although global life expectancies have increased since 1950, the rate of this rise has eased regardless of how developed the nation is, a study found.
Between 1950 and 1959, the average person’s life expectancy increased by 9.68 years, compared to just 1.89 years in 2000 to 2009, the research adds.
Life expectancy growth rates are expected to slow in developed countries as people approach the maximum age of human existence, which is generally up to 83 years old.
Yet, this should not occur in less-developed regions that have continuously improving incomes, sanitation and medicine.
The researchers believe the global HIV pandemic, as well as disinterest in public health, has significantly slowed life expectancy progress in less developed countries.
In the US, the life expectancy is around 78 years.
The rate of life expectancy gains worldwide have slowed per decade between 1950 and 2009
The researchers believe the global HIV pandemic has slowed life expectancy progress
Despite life expectancy growth slowing, it has steadily increased between 1950 and 2009
HOW OLD CAN HUMANS LIVE TO?
Humans may live to 120 in just 60 years time, a leading expert said in May 2017.
Research reveals it is possible to slow down our biological, or ‘inner’, ageing process, which could help us to live decades beyond the current UK life expectancy of 81.
Drugs that interact with our DNA maintain the function of our bodies for longer, the research suggests.
Experts stress, however, this must be combined with a healthy lifestyle for full effect.
How a 120-year-old life expectancy may impact people’s quality of life is unclear.
The side effects of such treatments are also unknown.
Several European countries are in talks to start drug trials within the next three years.
Professor Vladimir Khavinson, head of the St. Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology, said: ‘It is important to understand that nobody would want to live a long and unhealthy life.
‘The main goal for us now must be to allow people to stay healthy for as long as possible into their old age.’
Six of these drugs are already available in Russia.
These include Thymalin to maintain immune system function and Cortexin to preserve brain activity.
The drugs work on the so-called ‘peptide technology theory’ that interacting with DNA increases protein production that prolongs lifespan.
How the research was carried out
Researchers from John Hopkins University analyzed the life expectancies at birth of 173 countries between 1950 and 2009.
Of these regions, 11 had a life expectancy of less than 51 in 2000.
The researchers also investigated factors that may contribute to life expectancy change such as fertility rates and HIV prevalence.
‘Some are not even trying to increase their life expectancy’
As well as the infection itself slowing life expectancy growth, the HIV pandemic may also have hindered healthcare advances. HIV was first acknowledged in 1981.
Other reasons for the apparent decrease in life expectancy gains may be due to unreliable data pre-1970.
Study author Dr David Bishai said: ‘The slowdown trend persisted through the 1970s and 2000s when demographers started using more modern methods.’
The researchers also speculate efforts may have shifted away from managing the wellbeing of populations as whole via good public health onto those who specifically need treatment.
Dr Bishai said: ‘Nowadays, the countries with persistently low life expectancy are countries that generally are fragile states – some are not even trying to increase their life expectancy.
‘We need also to promote political will and social consensus for public health measures in the countries that need it most. If the national government is underperforming, public health can act on political will in districts and villages.
‘We used to be good at this and if we can get it back then I think we can again see the kinds of improvements we were seeing in the 1950s.’
The findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.