Posted on Apr 03, 2019, 3 p.m.
The long standing belief that the aging process will slow down or even stop once a person reaches a certain age has been refuted by a study suggesting there is no such thing as an aging plateau, that people will continue to get older as the years go by.
The aging plateau theory was made after researchers evaluated the risk of death during every year of life which noted those who turn 90 are more prone to dying compared to those who are 75; however if a person reached 105 the chances of dying did not appear to be much higher than during the 90th year of life. The phenomenon was called late life mortality deceleration, and theorized the aging process which increases mortality rate with every passing year more or less halted at that point in a person’s life. Based on this a person should not get any older past that point which is the aging plateau, meaning as the person passes more years the body would not age any further.
Australian National University Acton researcher Saul Justin Newman claims this theory is wrong, that it was just a statistical error that somehow kept getting repeated. Newman made a list of errors that could be committed when aging data was being collected and evaluated which may account for the evidence of the plateau. Newman points out that although researchers have accepted the idea of the plateau none of the experts could agree upon a biological reason for its existence.
Pro-plateau researchers assume the data derived from scientific databases were accurate, while Newman himself believes that at least some of the data was incorrectly entered. Newman suggests that some of the participants may have actually been 75 but were listed in the database as 85 for example, and likewise there could be participants who were much older than the age listed.
Newman says there were more younger subjects than older ones, statistically speaking the average subject therefore stood a greater chance of having data entered into the database as having an older age than they actually were. Newman goes on to explain errors don’t need to take place very often, a small number of incorrect ages of death would be enough to cause what is considered to be the aging plateau.
Newman has also challenged findings of a 2018 Sapienza University of Rome study drawing on Italian databases of lifespans which claims to have found evidence supporting the existence of an aging plateau. Newman’s counter study dismissed these new findings saying if 1 out of every 500 subjects listed in the database had incorrect age of death the results would match findings of the Sapienza study.
Newman has said “..the human body will only last so long before its functionality gives out. Aging does not stop in old age... biological machinery will get relentlessly worse from puberty until death.”
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