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Life expectancy reaching 90 in some places

Wednesday February 22nd, 2017

Life expectancy is set to continue increasing until 2030 - passing the age of 90 for women in one country, according to a major analysis published today.

The longest lived people will be women in South Korea, reaching a life expectancy of 90.8, say the researchers, led by Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, UK.

The team looked at long-term figures on mortality and longevity in 35 industrialised countries including high-income countries, such as the USA, Canada, and the UK, and emerging economies such as Poland and Mexico. They found that life expectancy is likely to rise in all 35 countries.

They predict that life expectancy is likely to be highest for women in South Korea (90.8 years), France (88.6 years) and Japan (88.4 years), and for men, in South Korea (84.1 years), Australia (84.0 years) and Switzerland (84.0 years).

Professor Ezzati says: "We repeatedly hear that improvements in human longevity are about to come to an end. Many people used to believe that 90 years is the upper limit for life expectancy, but this research suggests we will break the 90-year-barrier.

"I don't believe we're anywhere near the upper limit of life expectancy - if there even is one."

South Korea's high life expectancy could be due to a range of factors including good nutrition in childhood, low blood pressure, low levels of smoking, good access to health care, and uptake of new medical knowledge and technologies, say the team.

They worked with the World Health Organisation on the study, which is published in The Lancet today (22 February).

Co-author Professor Colin Mathers of the World Health Organisation said: "The increase in average life expectancy in high income countries is due to the over-65s living longer than ever before.

"In middle-income countries, the number of premature deaths - i.e. people dying in their forties and fifties, will also decline by 2030."

* A second analysis today predicts that male death rates from cancer in the European Union will fall faster this year than women's.

The report in the Annals of Oncology suggests an 8% fall in male cancer mortality and a 4% fall in female cancer mortality.

Kontis, V. et al. Future life expectancy in 35 industrialised countries: projections with a Bayesian model ensemble. The Lancet 22 February 2017; doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32381-9 [abstract]

European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2017: with focus on lung cancer Annals of Oncology 22 February; doi:10.1093/annonc/mdx033

Tags: Asia | General Health | World Health

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