People in their fifties likely to live to 100 years

Stanford: People in their 50s today can expect to live to 100, according to a leading US biologist.

Dr Shripad Tuljapurkar, from Stanford University in California, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in St Louis, Missouri, said that medical advances including cholesterol-lowering drugs and new cancer medicines which have already treated some of the illnesses of old age would be joined by new discoveries, adding an extra 20 years of life for most people.

This means that by 2050, the average age of death will be 100 instead of 80. And means people may have more than one career and several marriages may become more common.

Life expectancy currently increases by one year every five years.At the moment, every five years life expectancy goes up by one year, he told the
But from 2010 onwards it could start to go up five years for every five calendar years that pass.

‘Lifespan has been increasing over the last 150 years and shows little sign of slowing down,’ said Dr Tuljapurkar.

‘Some people believe we are on the brink of being able to extend human lifespan significantly because we’ve got most of the technologies we need to do it.’

There are no specific ‘antiageing drugs’ yet, and scientists are still a long way from even beginning trials in humans.

But Dr Tuljapurkar said blood pressure drugs and statins are already helping prolong life for many. Statins help lower harmful cholesterol and are already taken by more than one million Britons.

In the future, he said, drugs may be found that can slow down cancer progression for decades rather than months or years.

He also predicted that drugs to control our metabolism may one day allow us to delay the normal tissue breakdown that is part of the ageing process.

Doctors may also develop treatments which enable our bodies to repair damage to the genetic material of our cells and so prevent the kind of mutations that lead to diseases such as cancer.

For his research, he looked at the U.S., China, Sweden and India and concluded that growing life expectancy could have huge economic consequences for all.

He warned that if anti-ageing drugs were developed, they would probably only be available in wealthy countries.