The ONS (‘Office of National Statistics) produces annual updates on period life expectancy in the UK – the so-called National Life Tables. The latest tables are based on the 2018 to 2020 period, and therefore are the first to pick up the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the significantly increased death rates seen in 2020, this fall in life expectancy is not unexpected. However, it is important to note that the headline figures hide a wide variety of underlying impacts at a more granular level.
Illustrated below is the evolution of life expectancy at birth for seven Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries: Canada, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Across the seven countries, male life expectancy at birth ranged from 64.8 years to 68.2 years in 1960, and 69.8 years to 81.1 years in 2017, demonstrating an increase in the inequality of life expectancy of almost eight years between these countries over the period. For females, the increase was approximately four years. The inequality in life expectancy is more apparent and unsettling if we consider, for example, developing countries in Africa, averaging a life expectancy of around 63 years in 2019.
Altogether, I believe greater democratization of longevity is achievable with the adoption of health technologies, while ensuring they are accessible and affordable. I am hopeful but I see several challenges ahead. Such a reality will be reliant on governments, health care professionals, and patients’ acceptance and reliance on what the future of health holds. It will also require global partnerships to build out ecosystems that will facilitate inclusive innovation.
Moshe Milevsky claims that someone could be up to 20 years younger biologically than their chronological age, and that biological age is a much be a better way of determining a person’s longevity. If this is true, is there a way that organizations that specialize in longevity and/or mortality and that use mathematical calculations in order to determine risk could use biological age instead of chronological age to predict future health and longevity?
There are two methods used to calculate biological age, coined by Milevsky as the “living” methodology or the “dying” methodology a.k.a. the mortality-adjusted approach.
Both methods begin with the collection of data. A researcher would first gather data from a large group of people at a wide range of ages, collecting biological samples and measurements in order to record various physiological and molecular variables (such as heart rate, blood pressure, mutations of DNA, or the presence of certain proteins in the blood). Researchers may also collect data on variables that they believe will be correlated with enhancement or deterioration of a person’s physiological condition, such as their wealth, occupation or even their appearance or number of Facebook friends!