30 September 2008

Lucky to be a supercentenarian

While discussing the role of chance in the making of scientific discoveries in this post, I noted that chance events play a part in almost everything we do in our lives. Yesterday, I was reading a news article by Mitch Leslie in last Friday's Science that was about the supercentenarians (people who are 110 or older) and the scientists who are studying them.

So far, it appears that the supercentenarians have varying genetic makeups and lifestyles, but, as noted by one of the researchers, they all share one factor that contributed to their longevity: luck.

Calment* provides a prime example. She outlived her husband, daughter, and grandson. They died from non-aging-related causes—the husband from food poisoning, the daughter from pneumonia, and the grandson in a car accident. So if you hope to reach the big 110, keep a rabbit’s foot handy.

*Jeanne Louise Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122. She is the oldest person to have lived whose age could be verified.

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