Life expectancy has stagnated around 82.5 years in France in recent years, according to a study by the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED).

In 2018, statistics found an average life expectancy of 79.5 years for men and 85.4 years for women, an increase of 40 years compared to the last century. According to the demographic study, since 2014, life expectancy has only increased on an annual average by only 1½ month for men and 1 month for women.

Many factors have contributed to the steady rise we observe since the beginning of the 20th century: the end of wars, the decrease in epidemics and famine, the increase in medical progress and the decrease in infant mortality. During the 70’s advances in the fight against cancer and cardiovascular disease also helped lower the age of death thanks to preventive methods, earlier diagnosis and improved medical treatment.

According to Gilles Pison, who wrote the report, “statistics for the past decade indicating this leveling-off may indicate that benefits due to the cardiovascular revolution have reached their limit.”

Any new rise in life expectancy would therefore be linked to an effective fight against cancer, which is currently the main cause of death. Mortality by cancer has significantly decreased in men and continues to fall. However, due a rise in smoking between the years 1950 to 1980, the rate of cancer in women has increased. By comparison, the Japanese hold the world record of longevity at over 87 years.

Since a current hurdle for increasing life expectancy is neurodegenerative disease (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s), advances in treatment could certainly contribute to improving the statistics.

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