Humans alive today could reach 140, claim scientists.
Many experts have long suspected that the human lifespan had hit its limit, with no one likely to surpass the record of Jeanne Calment, a chain-smoking French woman who died aged 122.
But a new study has concluded we are still ‘far away’ from any maximum — if, in fact, there is one.
And there is even a 50/50 chance that someone born in 1940 in the UK will reach the impressive age of 125.
That would mean an octogenarian today still being alive in 2065.
Jeanne Calment, pictured with her Guinness World Record
Researchers from the University of Georgia analysed the lifespans of people in the UK born as far back as 1880 to work out what may be possible in the future.
Their projections show men born in 1970 could potentially reach the age of 141, and the oldest women born in 1970 could reach 131.
But these people are still so young the authors say they have ‘no confidence’ in these estimates, warning they may be inaccurate because they rely on certain statistical assumptions.
They are much more certain that a man born in 1940 could reach his 125th birthday, and a woman born in the same year reaching the age of 124-and-a-half.
These estimates have a 50/50 probability.
The oldest person in the world so far is believed to have been Ms Calment, who was reported to have reached the age of 122 years and 164 days, although some experts are sceptical about this.
For 25 years, no one else in the world has reached that age.
The study looking at lifespans across 19 separate countries to try to understand if ageing is being compressed or postponed.
The Office for National Statistics predicts the life expectancy of men born in 2070 in the UK will reach the age of 85 on average, while women will be nearly 88 when they die
Compression means that more people are reaching a good old age, such as their nineties.
Postponement means the age which people can live to is getting older.
The results, published in the journal PLOS One, suggest the age at which people die will increase dramatically in the coming decades.
In Sweden, which has the most years of data, the maximum age someone could live to stayed much the same for men born in 1900, compared to those born in 1780 — four generations earlier.
But the rise of modern medicine after WW2 and better nutrition and political stability, among other factors, may have contributed to the dramatic increase in lifespan seen up until now, and projected to continue.
The authors say the oldest among people born between 1910 and 1950 may regularly live to 120 or beyond.
Dr David McCarthy, who led the study from the University of Georgia, said: ‘As these cohorts attain advanced ages in coming decades, longevity records may increase significantly.
‘Our results confirm prior work suggesting that if there is a maximum limit to the human lifespan, we are not yet approaching it.’
Charlotte Hughes, who was born in August 1877 and died in March 1993 is the longest-lived person ever documented in the UK, having reached the age of 115 years and 228 days.
She credited cups of tea for her longevity, and was the oldest person to fly, at age 115 in 1992, when she took a seat on Concorde.
She also had the longest operating bank account, kept open for more than a century.
WHO WAS JEANNE CALMENT?
Jeanne Louise Calment holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person ever.
Born on February 21, 1875, she is reported to have lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days.
She passed away in a nursing home in Arles, in the south of France, on August 4, 1997.
Her unparalleled longevity has been the subject of numerous studies, both before and after her death.
She stunned doctors by continuing to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol every day.
Jeanne enjoyed good health for the majority of her life, having even taken up fencing as a hobby at the age of 85.
Ms Calment also claimed to have met the artist Vincent van Gogh, to whom she sold painting canvasses in her father’s shop as a teenager.
‘He was ugly as sin, had a vile temper and smelled of booze,’ she said.
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