Limit on Longevity: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Also: a potential game-changer on HIV
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2016 5:21 AM CDT
Limit on Longevity: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
In this file photo, Emma Morano poses next to a picture of herself as a younger woman in Italy. At 116, Morano is thought to be the oldest person in the world.   (Antonino Di Marco/ANSA via AP)

Some sobering news about human mortality and happier news about a not-so-extinct tree were among the discoveries that made headlines this week:

  • Human Lifespan Has Likely Maxed Out: Bad news if you're hoping to live to be older than Dumbledore. Even with advances in health care, no human is likely to make it past 125 years, researchers say. In fact, after decades of incremental increases, we seem to have maxed out around 115 years. There's been just one big exception in the last two decades.
  • A Giant Secret in Queen's Garden: 2 'Extinct' Trees: Botanists were sure that the Wentworth elm had gone extinct as part of a mass die-off of elm trees in the UK in the 1970s—but two have just been found in the garden of none other than Queen Elizabeth. It may seem odd that they could have been overlooked in such an obvious spot, but there's a simple, and logical, theory about that.

  • Old Fire Station Discovered Behind Factory Door: A surprisingly intact fire station has been found hiding behind a basement door underneath a factory in Britain. Staff with the Alan Nuttall Partnership, which has been operating out of the factory in Dudley for 30 years, found a set of old keys during renovations and discovered they fit an old door on the property. Behind it was a virtual time capsule.
  • Patient's HIV Is Eliminated in New Therapy: The first results of a study out of the UK are raising the tantalizing possibility that researchers have figured not just how to treat HIV but how to actually cure it. The first of 50 patients to undergo an experimental therapy has no detectable traces of the virus in his blood. The therapy makes one crucial advance over current treatment, one that involves seeking out cells in "hiding."
  • Birth Control Linked to Higher Risk of Depression: A new study suggests using hormonal birth control could increase the risk of depression. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen made the conclusion after studying more than a million women ages 15 to 34, about 55% of whom were using hormonal contraception or had been on it during the past six months. The numbers were especially striking for teens.
Click to read about more discoveries. (More discoveries stories.)

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