72 is the New 30

Really.

This is at the Los Angeles Times:

[R]esearch, published online Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [… finds that a] typical Swede, […] is more than 100 times more likely to survive to the age 15 than a typical hunter-gatherer. And a hunter-gatherer who has reached the ripe old age of 30 is about as likely to die in the following year as the world’s champion of longevity — a 72-year-old woman in Japan.

In evolution’s actuarial table, the researchers wrote, “72 is the new 30.”

In other words, compared with our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we’ve more than doubled our lifespans by tinkering, not with our genes, but with environmental factors:

No species dramatizes the breathtaking rate of humans’ life extension more than chimpanzees, mankind’s closest relative. At any age, the life expectancy of a human in a hunter-gatherer society is closer to that of a chimp in the wild than it is to a modern-day resident of Japan or Sweden, according to the study.

The authors wrote that the rapid improvements in human survival could only be accounted for by environmental changes, including better nutrition and medical advances; changes in the genome accumulate far too slowly to explain the progress.

My question: if you don’t make it to 72, should you now feel ripped-off?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to 72 is the New 30

  1. Alan says:

    Absolutly! You would be getting ripped off and should be very angry (posthumously).
    Except, how is medical advances an environmental change?
    What we first have different from hunter-gatherers is far larger, far more peaceful and more compassionate communities. Then we trained better doctors. The actual food was higher quality and the environment less polluted though predators more prevalent back when.

  2. Staffan says:

    As a Swede, I’d like to point out that Sweden more or less stopped waging wars around 1800, we were not in WW1 or WW2 and had no revolutions or armed conflicts of significance from then on.

    On top of that Swedes – as well as the Japanese – are more intelligent, introverted and conscientious than the global average. This makes us ideal for taking advantage of the technological progress that increases the life expectancy. Other cultures will not benefit in the same way. Honey Boo Boo is not going to live to be 72.

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