Centenarian: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A centenarian is a person who has attained the age of 100 years or more. Because current average life expectancies across the world are less than 100, the term is invariably associated with longevity. Much rarer, a supercentenarian is a person who has lived to the age of 110 or more, something only achieved by about one in a thousand centenarians. Even rarer yet is a person who has lived to 115 years old; only 1 in 50,000 centenarians make it to this age.


Current incidence

The United States currently has the greatest number of centenarians in the world, estimated at 96,548 on November 1, 2008. [1] The U.S. number is partly a function of America's large population in 1890–1910, large farm population a century ago, and an increased emphasis on long-term care facilities.

Japan is second, with 36,276 in September 2008.[2] Many experts attribute this (and Japan's very high life expectancy) to the Japanese diet, which is particularly low in fats, and to hygienic practices. In addition, five times the rate of Okinawans live to be 100 than the rest of Japan.[3] In addition to diet, there are four other factors that have been found to increase the life expectancy for Okinawans, as noted later in the "research into centenarians" section of this article. [4]

France has the highest rate of centenarians in percentage of the total population: 20,115[citation needed] centenarians in metropolitan France for a little less than 62 millions inhabitants, or 1 centenarian for 3,076 people. The rate is 1 per 3,522 in Japan[5] (but much higher in Okinawa), and 1 per 3,300 in the United States.[6]


107 year old Chaldean man from Mosul, Iraq, 1895
  • In the United States, centenarians traditionally receive a letter from the president upon reaching their 100th birthday, congratulating them for their longevity. NBC's The Today Show show has also named them on air since 1983.
  • In the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms, the Queen sends greetings (formerly as a telegram) on the 100th birthday and on every birthday starting with the 105th.
  • Centenarians born in Ireland receive a €2,540 "Centenarians' Bounty" and a letter from the President of Ireland, even if they are resident abroad.[7]
  • Japanese centenarians receive a silver cup and a certificate from the Prime Minister of Japan upon their 100th birthday, honouring them for their longevity and prosperity in their lives. In Japan, September 15 is "National Respect for the Aged Day".
  • Among Hindus, people who touch the feet of elders are often blessed with "May you live a hundred years".
  • In Sweden, the traditional birthday song states, May he/she live for one hundred years.
  • In Israel, the term May you live to be 120 years old is used for blessing someone.
  • In Poland, Sto lat, a wish to live a hundred years, is a traditional form of praise and good wishes.
  • Chinese emperors were hailed to live ten thousand years.
  • In Italy, "A hundred of these days!" (cento di questi giorni) is an augury for birthdays, to live to celebrate 100 more birthdays. Some Italians say "Cent'anni!" which means "a hundred years," in that they wish that they could all live happily for a hundred years, centenarians born in Italy receive a letter from the President of Italy.
  • In Greece, when wishing someone Happy Birthday, they will end the birthday wishes with the expression "na ta ekatostisis" which literally means "hundred them" but can be loosely translated as "may you make it one hundred birthdays".

Centenarians in ancient times

While the density of centenarians per capita was much less in ancient times than today, the data suggest that reaching the age of 100 was not impossible then. Though ancient demographics are biased in favor of wealthy or powerful individuals rather than the ordinary person, it is unscientific to suggest that "ordinary persons" lived longer. Grmek and Gourevitch speculate that during the Classical Greek Period, anyone who made it past the age of five years — surviving all the common childhood illness of that day — had a reasonable chance of living to a ripe old age. Life expectancy at 400 B.C. was estimated to be around 30 years of age. One demographer of ancient civilizations reported that Greek men lived to 45 years (based on a sample size of 91), while women lived to 36.2 years (based on a sample size of 55). Curiously, the gender statistics are inverted compared to today, since child-birth was a much more traumatic experience at that time than now, and it certainly skewed female statistics downward. It was common for average citizens to take great care in their hygiene (sanitation), Mediterranean diet (fish, figs, olive oil, wine, etc.), and exercise program (sports/gymnasium), although there was much more male trauma per capita than today, due to military service being virtually universal for citizens. This also biased the statistics for men downward.[8]

Diogenes Laertius (c. 250) gives the earliest (or at least one of the earliest) references about (plausible centenarian) longevity given by a scientist, the astronomer Hipparchus of Nicea (c. 185 – c. 120 B.C.), who, according to the doxographer, assured that the philosopher Democritus of Abdera (c. 470/460 – c. 370/360 B.C.) lived 109 years. All other accounts about Democritus given by the ancients appear to agree in the fact that the philosopher lived over 100 years. Such longevity would not be dramatically out of line with that of other ancient Greek philosophers thought to have lived beyond the age of 90 (e.g.: Xenophanes of Colophon, c. 570/565 – c. 475/470 B.C.; Pyrrho of Ellis, c. 360 - c. 270 B.C.; Eratosthenes of Cirene c. 285 – c. 190 B.C., etc.). The case of Democritus differs from the case of, for example, Epimenides of Crete (VII, VI centuries B.C.) who is said to have lived an implausible 154, 157 or 290 years, depending on the source.

The sixth dynasty Egyptian ruler Pepi II is believed by some Egyptologists to have lived to the age of 100 or more (c. 2278 BC - c. 2184 BC), as he ruled for 94 years.[9] However this is under dispute, as others claim the date should actually be 64 years.[10]

The Indian Sufi poet, Kabir (1398-1518?) is believed by some to have lived to an unnatural age of 120 while others believe that he lived for no more than 80 years.

Ultimately, there is no reason to believe that there could not have been a few individuals who were centenarians 2500 years ago, even if they were not commonplace.[11]

Hosius of Córdoba, the man who convinced Constantine the Great to call the First Council of Nicaea, reportedly lived to age 102.

The Chronicon of Bernold of Constance records the death in 1097 of Azzo marchio de Longobardia, pater Welfonis ducis de Baiowaria, commenting that he was iam maior centenario[12].

Conchobar Mac Con Rí of Galway, Ireland, (died 1580), is said to have "died at the extraordinary age of two hundred and twenty years".

Research into centenarians

Research carried out in Italy suggests that healthy centenarians have high levels of vitamin A and vitamin E and that this seems to be important in guaranteeing their extreme longevity.[13] Other research contradicts this, however, and has found that these findings do not apply to centenarians from Sardinia, for whom other factors probably play a more important role.[14] A preliminary study carried out in Poland showed that, in comparison with young healthy female adults, centenarians living in Upper Silesia had significantly higher red blood cell glutathione reductase and catalase activities and higher, although insignificantly, serum levels of vitamin E.[15] Researchers in Denmark have also found that centenarians exhibit a high activity of glutathione reductase in red blood cells. In this study, those centenarians having the best cognitive and physical functional capacity tended to have the highest activity of this enzyme.[16]

Other research has found that people having parents who became centenarians have an increased number of naïve B cells. It is well known that the children of parents who have a long life are also likely to reach a healthy age, but it is not known why, although the inherited genes are probably important.[17] A variation in the gene FOXO3A is known to have a positive effect on the life expectancy of humans, and is found much more often in people living to 100 and beyond - moreover, this appears to be true worldwide.[18]

Men and women who are 100 or older tend to have something else in common, an extroverted personality, says Thomas T. Perls, M.D., M.P.H., the director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University. Centenarians will often have many friends, strong ties to relatives and a healthy dose of self-esteem.[19]

Some research suggests that centenarian offspring are more likely to age in better cardiovascular health than their peers.[20]

In John W. Santrock's book "A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development" there are five factors that research has suggested that are most important to longevity in centenarians[4]: 1) heredity and family history 2) health, i.e. weight, diet, whether or not a person smokes, amount of exercise 3) education level 4) personality 5) lifestyle.[4]

The book also noted that the largest population of centenarians are women who have never been married.[4] Also, people who have been through traumatic life events, such as Holocaust survivors, learn to cope better with stress and poverty and are more likely to reach centenarian status.[4]

In Okinawa, Japan, studies have shown several different factors that have contributed to the large number of centenarians there.[4] The five factors are: 1) diet that is heavy on grains, fish, and vegetables and light on meat, eggs, and dairy products 2) low-stress lifestyles, which are proven significantly less stressful than that of the mainland inhabitants of Japan 3) caring community, where older adults are not isolated like many other cultures and are taken better care of 4) high levels of activity, where locals work until an older age than the average age in other countries, and more emphasis on activities like walking and gardening to keep active 5)spirituality, where a sense of purpose comes from involvement in spiritual matters and prayer eases the mind of stress and problems.[4]

Although these factors vary from those mentioned in the previous study, the culture of Okinawa has proven these factors to be an important consideration in the large population of centenarians in Okinawa.[4]

Numbers of centenarians

Country Centenarians (year) Centenarians (year) Centenarians (year) Centenarians (year) Percent over 65 Rate Per Mln People
Canada 3,795 (2006)[21] 3,125 (2001) - - 13% -
China 17,800 (2007)[22] - - - 7.9% 13.4
France 14,994 (2010)[23] 8,000 (2000) - - - 325
Japan 36,276 (2008)[24] 32,295 (2007)[2] 1,000 (1981) 153 (1963) 22.3% 284
Netherlands 1370 (2007)[25] 10 (1900) - - 15.0% [26] 83
South Korea 961 (2005)[27] - - - - -
USA[citation needed] 96,548 (1/11/2008) 60,425 (1/07/2004) 50,454 (1/04/2000) 37,306 (1990) 13% 316
England & Wales 9,330 (2007)[28] 8,370 (2005) 7,100 (6-2002) 100 (1911) 16% 169.8

See also


  1. ^ Bureau of the Census. "Older Americans Month: May 2009." Facts for Features. March 3, 2009. 5 pp.
  2. ^ a b "Centenarians in Japan soon to exceed 30,000 for first time." The Japan Times Online
  3. ^ National Geographic magazine, June 1993
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Santrock, John. (2008). Physical Development and Biological Aging. In Mike Ryan, Michael J. Sugarman, Maureen Spada, and Emily Pecora (Eds.), A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development (pp. 129-132). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
  5. ^ AFP De plus en plus de centenaires au Japon, Agence France presse, 12 Sept. 2008.
  6. ^ Estimate on July 1, 2008. Source: Bureau of the Census Table 1: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Five-Year Age Groups for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 (NC-EST2008-01)
  7. ^ ireland.com - Breaking News - Centenarians abroad to get birthday bonus
  8. ^ Mirko Grmek and Danielle Gourevitch, Illness in Antiquity (Fayard; 1998)
  9. ^ A Short History of Egypt: Part I: From the Predynastic Period to the Old Kingdom
  10. ^ The Ancient Egypt site - Pepi II
  11. ^ Postel-Vinay O (Jul-Aug 1999). "Histoire Le Cas de la Grèce Antique" (in French). La Recherche Special 322: 90. http://www.larecherche.fr/content/recherche/article?id=15880. 
    Note: La Recherche is the French equivalent of Scientific American in the English-speaking world.
  12. ^ Bernoldi Chronicon 1097, MGH SS V, p. 465.
  13. ^ Mecocci P, Polidori MC, Troiano L, et al. (Apr 2000). "Plasma antioxidants and longevity: a study on healthy centenarians". Free Radic Biol Med. 28 (8): 1243–8. doi:10.1016/S0891-5849(00)00246-X. PMID 10889454. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0891-5849(00)00246-X. 
  14. ^ Polidori MC, Mariani E, Baggio G, et al. (Jul 2007). "Different antioxidant profiles in Italian centenarians: the Sardinian peculiarity". Eur J Clin Nutr 61 (7): 922–4. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602596. PMID 17228351. 
  15. ^ Kłapcińska B, Derejczyk J, Wieczorowska-Tobis K, Sobczak A, Sadowska-Krepa E, Danch A (2000). "Antioxidant defense in centenarians (a preliminary study)". Acta Biochim Pol. 47 (2): 281–92. PMID 11051193. http://www.actabp.pl/pdf/2_2000/281.pdf. 
  16. ^ Andersen HR, Jeune B, Nybo H, Nielsen JB, Andersen-Ranberg K, Grandjean P (Sep 1998). "Low activity of superoxide dismutase and high activity of glutathione reductase in erythrocytes from centenarians". Age Ageing 27 (5): 643–8. doi:10.1093/ageing/27.5.643. PMID 12675104. http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=12675104. 
  17. ^ Blood tests 'could be used to predict lifespan' Daily Telegraph, UK. Published June 25, 2008. Accessed June 30, 2008.
  18. ^ Living longer thanks to the 'longevity gene' Physorg.com. Published February 3, 2009. Accessed February 4, 2009.
  19. ^ [|Tweed, Katherine] (September 2009). "Healthy Living to 100 and Beyond". AOL Health. http://www.aolhealth.com/condition-center/heart-disease/surviving-a-heart-attack. Retrieved September 2009. 
  20. ^ Adams ER, Nolan VG, Andersen SL, Perls TT, Terry DF (Nov 2008). "Centenarian offspring: start healthier and stay healthier". J Am Geriatr Soc 56 (11): 2089–92. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01949.x. PMID 18811609. 
  21. ^ 2001 Census: Age and sex profile: Canada
  22. ^ China News 2007-12-14
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ BBC News
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named www.cbs.nl; see Help:Cite error.
  27. ^ www.korea.net 2006-06-21
  28. ^ National Statistics Online - Product - Mid-2002 to Mid-2007 Estimates of the very elderly (including centenarians) (experimental)

External links

Reference Koch Tina, Charmaine Power, & Debbie Kralik (2005) 100 Years Old 24: Australian Centenarians Tell Their Stories Viking / Penguin


Simple English

, who died shortly after he turned 100, was one of the most well known people to become a centenarian.]]

A centenarian is a person who has lived to be at least 100. Because people normally die before this age, the word centenarian is usually linked to longevity. The United States has the most centenarians, while Japan is second.

Much more rare is a supercentenarian, who is a person that has lived to be at least 110. Famous supercentenarians have included Harry Patch, who was the last surviving British soldier of the First World War trenches. He died on 25 July 2009 aged 111. For the last seven days of his life he was Britain's oldest man. Henry Allingham, another First World War veteran, had died a week earlier aged 113. [1]

Other websites


  1. "Then there were none", The Mail on Sunday, 26 July 2009 p.16


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