[The remarkable rise in life expectancy and how it will affect medicine].
Life expectancy has increased at a steady pace in industrialized countries over the last 160 years. A slowdown is not evident: Since 1950 the number of people celebrating their 100th birthdays has at least doubled each decade. This increase in survival is the result of economic developments, social improvements and advances in medicine. Although the belief that old-age mortality is intractable remains widespread, life expectancy is not approaching a limit. Rather, the evidence suggests that ageing is plastic and that survival can be extended by various genetic changes and non-genetic interactions. Increases in life expectancy are largely attributed to improvements in old-age survival. It is a reasonable scenario that life expectancy will rise further in coming decades, supported by advances in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of age-related diseases. If the trend continues, life expectancy in Germany will rise to over 90 years in the first half of this century. Many official forecasts, however, have assumed lower figures which can have severe consequences both for public and private decision making.
Vaupel, JW; V Kistowski, KG
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