"An article from the Duke University media outlet reminds us of the bigger historical picture of human life expectancy: continual incremental improvement ever since the Industrial Revolution. It's also a good example of how to write a decent popular science press piece, one that adds context to the research it references, rather than dumbing it down or papering it over. From the perspective of the reliability theory of aging and longevity, the historical increase in life expectancy has occurred because better and more widespread availability of medical technology lowers the rate at which biological damage accumulates. Prevention of chronic infectious disease, for example, falls into this category: disease applies a damage load to an individual, and that damage reduces the mean time to failure of bodily systems.
"We're living longer because people are reaching old age in better health," said demographer James Vaupel, author of a review article appearing in the March 25 edition of Nature. But once it starts, the process of aging itself - including dementia and heart disease - is still happening at pretty much the same rate. "Deterioration, instead of being stretched out, is being postponed." ... Over the past 170 years, in the countries with the highest life expectancies, the average life span has grown at a rate of 2.5 years per decade, or about 6 hours per day.
Six hours per day sounds a lot more exciting than a few years per decade - there's a lesson about the time preference of human psychology lurking in there somewhere. Advocates take note: tell your friends how many extra hours of life they gained today thanks to advancing medical technology, and see what they say."