Death is part of life. The end of existence is the fate of all living beings and humans are, as far as we know, the only species fully aware of the imminence of their own death.
This level of knowledge of our own mortality is even more developed than the mere instinct of survival, since being a rational concept to which we are all inevitably exposed, we consequently try to give meaning to life and use our capacities to avoid death at all costs.
The extension of life expectancy is one of the most impressive achievements of modern civilizations. Just a few centuries or even decades ago people died of diseases that today are completely eradicated and those that continue to afflict us have found resistance in the incredible advances of medicine.
However, no matter how much life expectancy has been expanded to the past 70 years, death still reaches us. And although it is most likely that we will never be able to develop technology that allows us to be immortal, science definitely works tirelessly to continue lengthening our time.
A recent study indicates that if we eliminate chronic diseases, such as cancer or heart disease, from the equation, and even if the possibility of dying in an accident disappears, our longevity could be much greater than it is now and we could live as long as 120 or 150 years.
By establishing that humans have the intrinsic capacity to live for more than 100 years, scientists indicate that what could really prevent it or in any case what would be worrying in case of achieving it is the quality of life that can be had at that age.
Negative habits during life shorten the body’s ability to restore itself and when reaching such high ages the capacity is minimal, so although a longer life sounds great, scientists have to make sure that it is a life free of suffering and with real functioning capacities because if not, it would make no sense.
“Death is not the only thing that matters. Other things, like quality of life, start mattering more and more as people experience the loss of them. And the question is: Can we extend life without also extending the proportion of time that people go through a frail state?” says Heather Whitson, director of the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.
The studies of course will have to continue but we are excited that science is managing to expand the time in which we can enjoy this unique and unrepeatable gift of life.