Scientists claim 72 is the new 30Hominids – early humans – had the same life expectancy as a 72-year-old living nowGerman researchers use death rate statistics to build theory Hunter-gatherers at 30 have the same probability of death as present-day Japanese at 72,' Dr Oskar Burger
Anna Hodgekiss and Martin Robinson
12:23 GMT, 26 February 2013
14:13 GMT, 26 February 2013
Alive and kicking: Faye Dunaway, 72, is as healthy as an ancient 30-year-old, scientists have said
Humans are now living so much longer than a century ago that 72 should now be considered 'the new 30', a study has found.
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic
Research in Rostock, Germany, says life expectancy is rising faster
than it has for 200 millennia, when our ancestors the Hominids walked the planet.
Scientists say that modern healthcare and medicines mean we are healthier in our seventies now than when our ancestors were starting their thirties.
Researchers have studied the death rates of hunter-gatherers whose way of life has not changed for generations.
They looked at tribal people in Australia, Africa, South America and the Philippines and found that at 30-years-old, these people had the same chance of dying as Japanese people aged 72.
Comparing hunter gatherers with the long-lived Japanese, the authors led by Dr Oskar Burger, wrote: ‘Hunter-gatherers at age 30 have the same probability of death as present-day Japanese at the age of 72.'
In fact, hunter-gatherer death rates were closer to those of chimpanzees than to citizens of Japan or Sweden, the research showed.
Growing old: Women in Japan and Sweden were found to be in the healthiest Western nations at 72
Life expectancy: Human longevity has increased at its fasted rate for millions of years when we evolved from Hominid ancestors like this one
Since about 1840, life spans in the longest-lived populations have increased by about three months per year, said the researchers.
Most of the death-rate reduction had occurred since 1900 and been experienced by only about four of the roughly 8,000 human generations that have ever lived.
Up to the age of around 15, hunter-gatherers had death rates more than 100 times higher than those seen in modern-day Japan and Sweden.
Across the whole of their life spans they had a more than 10-fold greater likelihood of dying.
Hunter-gatherer death rates and those of people in Sweden were much closer in 1900 than they are today, said the scientists.
The increase in human life expectancy had been largely achieved 'by removing environmental shocks, by making injuries and illnesses less fatal with medical technology, and by enhancing health at older ages by improving nutrition and reducing disease at younger ages'.
The findings are published in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences.