[Survival time without food and drink]

Arch Kriminol. 2009 Nov-Dec;224(5-6):184-91.
[Article in German]


After accidents, in which victims were trapped or buried alive, the question how long one can survive without eating and drinking often becomes a subject of public interest. Experiments with humans are ethically unacceptable. As an approach to the issue, this article also takes reports from the popular press into account. Altogether, it seems possible to survive without food and drink within a time span of 8 to 21 days. If a person is only deprived of food, the survival time may even go up to about two months, although this is influenced by many factors. The article describes the impressive case of a handcuffed 81-year-old man, in which the external circumstances are known.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autopsy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Dehydration / pathology*
  • Homicide / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Starvation / pathology*
  • Theft / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Time Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology