Secrets of the World’s Oldest People


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There’s no such thing as the fountain of youth, but there are factors commonly associated with extreme longevity. Hint: being female is a very good thing.

longevity = a long duration of individual life

sense of purpose: buffers against stress and hypertension
healthy relatives: longevity has low-to-moderate heritability
body weight: obesity diminishes longevity (or rather: obesity shortens life span)

Stats/Facts related to Supercentenarians:

during past 3 decades: in the US, the centenarian population has grown 65.8%

(between 1980-2010)

1980: 32,194 centenarians in US
2010: 53,364 centenarians in US
during same time period, the total US population has increased 36.3%

(all data from US Census Bureau)

Supercentenarian: person aged 110+ years

# estimated living supercentenarians=300-450 persons (worldwide)

# living supercentenarians in US=60-75

# validated living supercentenarians=65 persons

# of validated supercentenarians is likely only ~10% of actual number

bulk of supercentenarians fall between 110-113 years old

hardly any Supercentenarians live past 115

far more people are living to 110 than ever before
that is, people who used to die at 105-109 are now reaching 110-113 years of age
the oldest verified age on record was 122 years old and 164 days: Jeanne Calment of France. (she died in 1997)

63 living female supercentenarians
2 living male supercentenarians: Arturo Licata and Dr. Alexander Imich

Arturo Licata (birthplace and place of residence, Italy)

dob: May 2, 1902
age 111

Dr. Alexander Imich (birthplace, Poland; place of residence, USA (NY)

dob: Feb 4th, 1903
age 110

Oldest living supercentenarian:

Misao Okawa (birthplace and place of residence, Japan)

the oldest living person verified by original proof of birth
dob: March 5, 1898
age 115

Stats for 10 oldest living people:

all females
5 born in US (or US territory)

GA (x 2), AL, MA, Puerto Rico

2 born in UK (England)
2 born in Japan
1 born in Italy

Four living supercentenarians are aged 114+ years old

Contenders for “oldest living person”

Carmelo Flores Laura

registry lists his birthdate as July 16, 1890
no birth certificate because they didn’t exist in Bolivia until 1940

births before 1940 were registered with baptism certificates from nearest Catholic church

can’t share baptism certificate because it’s a private document

Bolivian (birthplace and place of residence)
aged 123 years
herds cattle and sheep
walks without a cane and doesn’t wear glasses

Alimihan Seyiti

dob: June 25th, 1886
aged 127 years
birthplace/place of residence: China
habit: drinking cold water
loves children and singing

Centenarian = person who is 100+ years old

they disprove the ageist myth that the older you get, the sicker you get

instead, they live 90-95% of their lives in excellent health
have low rate of senility despite age

Research found certain trends/characteristics associated with exceptional longevity:

Common Traits

centenarians (vs. average person) 20x more likely to have had a relative that lived into old age
“stout”(heaviest 15% of population) men are much less likely to live to age 100 compared to “medium”men and “slender”men

obesity prevents longevity

being a farmer
having 4 (or more) children by age 30
being born to a young mother
born during Fall season (Sept, Oct, Nov)

temp. not too hot nor too cold

strong willed
strong belief in god, though religions varied
daily exercise (moving around every day)
more socializing
fresh, natural, plant-based diet

avoid red meat

sense of purpose (reason to get out of bed and live life)

Ex: in Okinawa, Japan, this is known as ikigai = ‘that which makes one’s life worth living’

sense of purpose which helps buffer against stress and hypertension

Geographical pockets (hot spots) for extreme longevity

5 official Blue Zones (“longevity oasis”: regions where people commonly live active lives after age 100

Okinawa, Japan
Sardinia, Italy
Loma Linda, CA

group of Seventh Day Adventists

extremely healthy dietary practices
abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking, and eating pork
50% are lacto-ovo (milk-and-egg using) vegetarians
most do not drink coffee (or other caffeine-containing beverages)
Adventists in Loma Linda have longer life expectancy than the average Californian:

male Adventist life expectancy: 77 years
male Californian life expectancy: 71 years
female Adventist life expectancy: 80 years
female Californian life expectancy: 77 years

Ikaria, Greece
Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica

What centenarians in the U.S. have in common:


possibly associated with females being more social than males
live with others

⅔centenarian population live with other people

with family members
nursing home

less diverse than than overall US population

white: 82.5% of all centenarians; 72.4% overall population
black/African-Americans: highest proportion of centenarians compared to total population (12.2% centenarians ; 12.6% total population)
Asian: 2.5% centen. pop.
Hispanic: 5.8% centen. pop.

live in a city

as age increases, the proportion living in urban setting also increases
85.7% living in city (as of 2010)

located in Northeast or in the Midwest

the proportion of centenarians in the US is lower than many other developed countries

People who accomplished impressive feats during old age:

John Glenn: man in space (at age 77)
Ronald Reagan: elected/sitting president (age 77)

elected president (age 69)
sitting president (age 77)

Yuichiro Miura: climbed Mt. Everest (age 80)

Oscar Swahn: Olympic competitor (age 72)

1920 Olympics
won silver medal as part of double-shot running-deer team

Ronald Coase: Nobel prize winner (age 102)

prize in Economics

Chau Mu-he: college graduate (age 96)

master’s degree in Philosophy

Aida Mendes: skydiver (age 103)

Fauja Singh: finished marathon (age 100)

Living is life to the fullest is not just for the young, but vitality in old ages begins now.



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