Despite breakthroughs in understanding why we age, slowing the inevitable is proving impossible

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Credit: Harvard School of Public Health
Credit: Harvard School of Public Health

Backed by governments, business, academics and investors in an industry worth $110bn (£82.5bn) – and estimated to be worth $610bn by 2025 – scientists have spent decades attempting to harness the power of genomics and artificial intelligence to find a way to prevent or even reverse ageing.

But an unprecedented study has now confirmed that we probably cannot slow the rate at which we get older because of biological constraints.

“Our findings support the theory that, rather than slowing down death, more people are living much longer due to a reduction in mortality at younger ages,” said José Manuel Aburto from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, who analysed age-specific birth and death data spanning centuries and continents.

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“Our findings confirm that, in historical populations, life expectancy was low because many people died young,” said Aburto. “But as medical, social, and environmental improvements continued, life expectancy increased.

“More and more people get to live much longer now. However, the trajectory towards death in old age has not changed,” he added. “This study suggests evolutionary biology trumps everything and, so far, medical advances have been unable to beat these biological constraints.”

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