Saturday, October 3, 2009

Half of babies 'will live to 100'

More than half of babies now born in the UK and other wealthy nations will live to 100 years, researchers say. The study, published in The Lancet journal, also says the extra years are spent with less serious disability. Data from more than 30 developed countries shows that since 1950 the probability of surviving past 80 years of age has doubled for both sexes. One expert said healthy behaviors for all ages were the key to enjoying living a long life.

Professor Kaare Christensen, of the Danish Ageing Research Centre at the University of Southern Denmark, who led the study, said life expectancy had been increasing since 1840 and there was no sign of this trend slowing down. He said: "The linear increase in record life expectancy for more than 165 years does not suggest a looming limit to human lifespan.”If life expectancy were approaching a limit, some deceleration of progress would probably occur."

In 1950 the probability of surviving for between 80 and 90 years of age was, on average, 15 to 16% for women and 12% for men. In 2002, these figures had risen to 37% for women and 25% for men. The study points out that until the 1920s, improvements in infant and childhood survival contributed most to the increase in life expectancies. Since then the increases have been fuelled by progress in the survival of the elderly, which has been particularly evident since the 1970s.

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