Editorials

How can we live forever?

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7072.1571 (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1571
  1. Tom Kirkwood
  1. Gerontologist Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT

    Choose your parents, and try not to accumulate mutant mitochondria

    Of course living forever is a myth—sooner or later an accident would catch up with us even if we did not age. But there has been considerable discussion recently of the idea that the human life span might be extended.1 Much of this discussion can be dismissed as wild optimism, but there are some geneticists who seem willing to extrapolate from work on invertebrates to suggest that 200 year human life spans may be on the horizon.2 To understand the status of these claims we need to look at current knowledge of the biology of aging and, in particular, the role of genetics. It has long been held that the best recipe for a long life is to choose your parents well, and a study on longevity records in a sample of 19th century Danish …

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