Who Are Centenarians?


A centenarian is a person who lives to or beyond the age of 100 years. In 2012, the United Nations estimated that there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide. As life expectancy is increasing across the world, and the world population has also increased rapidly, the number of centenarians is expected to increase quickly in the future. According to the UK ONS, one-third of babies born in 2013 in the UK are expected to live to 100. Worldwide, the number of centenarians is projected to grow twelvefold between 2000 and 2060.

A supercentenarian is a person who has lived to the age of 110 or more, something only achieved by about one in 1,000 centenarians. Even rarer is a person who has lived to age 115 – as of June, 2017 there are only 21 verified people who have indisputably reached this age (Wikipedia). There has only been one known verified case of a person of 120 years or older, Jeanne Calment.

“The number of centenarians in the U.S. and other countries has been doubling roughly every eight years,” said James Vaupel, founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. “When the Baby Boomers hit, there’s going to be acceleration, and it might be doubling every five or six years,” he said.

Vaupel says that being married is a positive for both. “Especially if you’re quite old, it’s very helpful to have a spouse. If you’re very old and don’t have a spouse, the chance of death is higher,” he says.“We don’t smoke or drink so much, and we’re better at exercise. People are taking better care of themselves. People are better educated, and the more educated know when to go to the doctor and follow the doctor’s advice,” he said, adding that people now tend to have higher income and can spend more on health care and improved diet.“The most important thing is we’re living longer and living longer healthy,” Vaupel said.  Top

Centenarians Around The World

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The UN estimates there were 316,600 centenarians worldwide in 2012. The United States currently has the greatest number of centenarians of any nation with 53,364 according to the 2010 Census, or 17.3 per 100,000 people. In 2010, 82.8% of US centenarians were female. The Unites States is estimated to have 72,000 centenarians in 2015. If the population of centenarians continues to increase at its current rate of expansion there could be close to 1 million people residing in the US of 100 years or more by 2050.

Japan has the second-largest number of centenarians, with an estimated 65,000 in 2016 and the highest proportion of centenarians at 34.85 per 100,000 people. Japan started recording its centenarians in 1963 and the number of centenarians in that year was 153. Japan surpassed the 10,000 mark in 1998; and 40,000 in 2009. The centenarians population in Japan is rising more dramatically than anywhere else. Some sources suggest that the number of centenarians could be one million by 2050. In Japan, the number of centenarians is highly skewed towards females. In 2016 Japan had 57,525 female centenarians, while males were 8,167, a ratio of 7:1.

An aspect of blessing in many cultures is to offer a wish that the recipient lives to 100 years old. 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 Judaism, the term May you live to be 120 years old is a common blessing. In Poland, Sto lat, a wish to live a hundred years, is a traditional form of praise and good wishes, and the song "sto lat, sto lat" is sung on the occasion of the birthday celebrations—arguably, it is the most popular song in Poland. Chinese emperors were hailed to live ten thousand years, while empresses were hailed to live a thousand years. In Italy, "A hundred of these days!" is a wish on one's birthday to celebrate 100 of them. In Greece, wishing someone Happy Birthday translates to "may you make it one hundred birthdays".  Top

Are Genes The Most Important Item For Longevity?

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“Most people think it’s their genes, but the data don’t support it,” says Cardiologist John Day of Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah. Research on 3,000 pairs of twins who had the exact same genes, but as adults had different home and life choices, showed that only 25 percent of their longevity was due to genes. The other 75 percent was affected by lifestyle. Things within our control can make all the difference in lifespan.

In March, 2018 computational biologist Yaniv Erlich of Columbia University in New York City and his colleagues used crowd sourced data to make a family tree that linked 13 million people. The ancestry chart they developed is believed to be the largest verified resource of its kind - spanning an average of 11 generations. The group concluded that heredity explains only about 16% of the difference in lifespans for these individuals. Most of the differences were due to other factors, such as where and how people lived.

Geriatrician Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston Medical Center, said research shows that behaviors have a greater influence on survival up until the late 80s in age. Most people have the right genes to get there as long as their behaviors are not harmful. But once people reach the 90s and beyond, genetics do play a more significant role. “To get to the very oldest ages, you really have to have the right genes in your corner,” Perls says. As an international leader in the field, Perls’ focus is on finding the right mix of behavior, environment and genetics to produce long lives. His work includes a National Institute on Aging study called the Long Life Family Study which can be found here.

Cell lines from blood samples of centenarians have significantly higher levels of the protein PARP than cell lines from younger 20 to 70 year old individuals. PARP is a family of proteins involved in a number of positive cellular processes, most notably DNA repair. DNA is the molecule that carries the genetic instructions for the development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. PARP is found in the cell nucleus. Its main role is to detect and initiate an immediate response to any single-strand DNA breaks.  Top

Forbes - 7 Life Secrets Of Centenarians

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There is no one pathway to reaching age 100. We all have the opportunity to grab the brass ring in our own way and many of us will. One in 26 baby boomers is now expected to live to 100; legions more will reach the mid-to-late 90s. Here are seven secrets centenarians cite for living a long and happy life.

1. A Positive Attitude Trudi Fletcher of Tubac, AZ., a lifelong artist, remains an innovative painter at 100 and recently had a gallery exhibition showing off her new style. She credits her creative longevity to "attitude, attitude, attitude." Almost all of the centenarians we spoke to \believe a positive yet realistic attitude is critical throughout one's life and described themselves as optimistic people.

2. Diet Here's diet advice you may not have heard before: Eat like it's 1960. Our centenarians were critical of today's supersized portions. The majority advised just eat nutritious food in moderation. Only 20 percent said they had ever been on a specialized diet plan, although some had become vegetarians. Lillian Cox, 107, of Tallahassee, FL., confided that in her 50s she became "quite heavy" but resolved to lose the weight, did so, and kept it off by just eating less. The stylish former dress shop owner says, "I was a good advertisement for the merchandise I selected on my frequent buying trips to New York."

3. Exercise "Move it or lose it," says Louise Caulder, 101. "I don't leave my bedroom before doing 30 minutes of stretches. Later, I walk a mile. Three times a week I play bridge. You've got to exercise your mind as well as your body - everyone knows that, but I wonder how many are actually doing it." A few centenarians who successfully maintained their athleticism or gained new skills in later years have competed in the Senior Games. "I always thought of myself as an ordinary guy, but once I was in my 90s, I looked around and realized I was the oldest one at the lanes and I could still keep up my score," says bowler George Blevins, 100. "So I entered the Senior Games and have enjoyed winning several medals, even at 100."

4. Faith It came as no surprise to us that almost all centenarians we spoke to said that their faith has sustained them. Most believe they will be here as long as God has a purpose for them. "Perhaps we are here to be an example to others in hard times," says Roberta McRaney, 101, whose original home was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, as did her rebuilt house.

5. Clean Living Harry Adler, 101, says it's this simple: "Just stay out of trouble." Everyone's interpretation of that advice may vary, but many centenarians told us it means doing what you know is right and following your conscience. Also, almost 75 percent of the centenarians we surveyed never smoked; most of the others stopped between the ages of 40 and 70. And while some never drank, most said they enjoyed only an occasional cocktail or a glass of wine; some still do.

6. A Loving Family Family was universally important to centenarians. They enjoy their roles as matriarchs or patriarchs and many spoke of the pleasure of watching younger generations grow and flourish. One respondent credited her longevity to "a wonderful and loving family, the good Lord and a rum and Coke every afternoon."

7. Genetics All of the secrets mentioned so far reflect lifestyle choices that can influence longevity to varying degrees, but our genetic makeup makes a difference as well. "I picked the right parents and genes!" says Andy Weinandy, 100. Until medical science devises new ways to help us work with the genes we've been dealt, the secret is that some of us will be more prone to longevity than others. But there's no reason to be discouraged: A large percentage of centenarians we surveyed said their parents and grandparents were not especially long-lived.