A fresh look at longevity as a supercentenarian dies

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Edna Parker, the 115 year and 220 day old American woman, the world’s oldest person died, says the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, California. The Indiana woman who lived in a nursing home followed the passing on August 13, 2007 of the Japanese Yone Minagawa, the Guinness World Book of Records title holder for the oldest person before Parker.

Both persons qualify as “supercentenarians” for having lived beyond 110 years old. It is believed that currently there are 89 supercentenarians worldwide among whom 79 are women and 10 are men.

An amazing Frenchwoman who lived for 122 years

Jeanne Louise Calment was born in Arles, France on February 21, 1875 and died on August 4, 1997. She once met Vincent Van Gogh in her father’s shop. Her genes may have contributed to her longevity as her father lived to the age of 94 and her mother to the age of 86. She married a distant cousin at the age of 21. Her only grandson died in 1963. She rode a bicycle to the age of 100.

In October of 1995, much press coverage announced that Jeanne had exceeded the lifespan of Shigechiyo (Chigechiyo) Izumi, who until then had held the claim to the longest lived human. In fact, work by John Wilmoth indicates that Izumi may have only been 105 when he died, meaning that Jeanne may have outlived Izumi in 1980. If that is accurate, Jeanne would have become the longest lived human in 1991 when she exceeded the longevity of Carrie White, who died at the age of 116.”—Source: ww.wowzone.com

Increasing longevity of people has been a source of fascination of modern society. It is mainly attributed to better healthcare, control of illnesses by science, improved diet and life-style. With a normal maximum life-span of about 120 years, people are enthused by the prospect of extending years of survival or achieving immortality.

Researchers are finding ways of extending longevity, but others are questioning whether a longer life is better than having a shorter one that is meaningful and relatively free of protracted suffering. Ethicists mull on the morality of prolonging survival using means that are controversial. For instance, they struggle on the moral questions on using helpless human embryos in an effort to cure diseases and extend life. (Photo Credits: Ollik; AP/Darron Cummings; http://www.wowzone.com; [][][][])=0=

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