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A supercentenarian (sometimes hyphenated as super-centenarian) is someone who has lived to or surpassed their 110th birthday. This age is achieved by about one in 1,000 centenarians. [1] Anderson et al. concluded that supercentenarians live a life typically free of major age-related diseases until shortly before maximum human lifespan is reached. [2]

Centenarian person who lives to or beyond the age of 100 years

A centenarian is a person who lives to the age of 100 years. Because life expectancies worldwide are below 100 years, the term is invariably associated with longevity. In 2012, the United Nations estimated that there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide.



In 2003, the Gerontology Research Group estimated that there were 300–450 living supercentenarians in the world (an estimate not updated as of 2017), while they had validated approximately 40. [3] [4] Adding those mentioned in other sources results in over 100 incidences. A study conducted in 2010 by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research found 663 validated supercentenarians, living and dead, and showed that the countries with the highest total number (not frequency) of supercentenarians (in decreasing order) were the United States, [5] Japan, England plus Wales, France, and Italy. [6] [7]

The Gerontology Research Group (GRG) is a global group of researchers in various fields that verifies and tracks supercentenarians, or people who are at least 110 years old in a list of the verified oldest people. The group also aims to further gerontology research with a goal of reversing or slowing aging.

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) is located in Rostock, Germany. It was founded in 1996 by James Vaupel and moved into new buildings in Rostock in 2002. It is one of approximately 80 institutes of the Max Planck Society.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

The first verified supercentenarian in human history was Dutchman Geert Adriaans Boomgaard (1788-1899), [8] and it was not until the 1980s that the oldest verified age surpassed 115.[ citation needed ]

Geert Adriaans Boomgaard Dutch supercentenarian

Geert Adriaans Boomgaard was a Dutch supercentenarian. He is accepted as the first validated supercentenarian case on record.</ref> Since there is evidence that he served as a soldier in Napoleon's Grande Armée, in the 33rd Light Infantry Division, Boomgaard might in fact have been the oldest military veteran ever for several decades.


The term supercentenarian has been in existence since at least the nineteenth century. [9] [10] The term ultracentenarian has also been used to describe someone well over 100 [11] Norris McWhirter, editor of The Guinness Book of Records , used the word in correspondence with age claims researcher A. Ross Eckler Jr. in 1976, and it was further popularised in 1991 by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book Generations . Meanwhile, semisupercentenarian has been used for the age range of 105–109 years. [12] Early references to supercentenarian tend to mean simply "someone well over 100", but the 110-and-over cutoff is the accepted criterion of demographers.

Norris McWhirter writer, political activist and television presenter

Norris Dewar McWhirter was a British writer, political activist, co-founder of The Freedom Association, and a television presenter. He and his twin brother, Ross, were known internationally for the founding of The Guinness Book of Records, which they wrote and annually updated together between 1955 and 1975. After Ross's assassination by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), Norris carried on alone as editor.

<i>Guinness World Records</i> reference book containing a list of world records, for both human and natural records

Guinness World Records, known from its inception from 1955 until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records and in previous United States editions as The Guinness Book of World Records, is a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world. The brainchild of Sir Hugh Beaver, the book was co-founded by brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter in Fleet Street, London in August 1954.

A. Ross Eckler Jr. was an American logologist, statistician, and author, the son of statistician A. Ross Eckler. He served in the US Army from 1946 - 1947. He received a B.A. from Swarthmore College with High Honors in 1950 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1954.


While claims of extreme age have persisted from the earliest times in history, the earliest supercentenarian accepted by Guinness World Records is Dutchman Thomas Peters (reportedly 1745–1857). Scholars such as French demographer Jean-Marie Robine, however, consider Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, also of the Netherlands, who turned 110 in 1898, to be the first verifiable case, as the alleged evidence for Peters has apparently been lost. The evidence for the 112 years of Englishman William Hiseland (reportedly 1620–1733) does not meet the standards required by Guinness World Records. Norwegian Church records, the accuracy of which is subject to dispute, also show what appear to be several supercentenarians who lived in the south-central part of present-day Norway during the 16th and 17th centuries, including Johannes Torpe (1549–1664), and Knud Erlandson Etun (1659–1770), both residents of Valdres, Oppland, Norway.

Longevity claims are unsubstantiated cases of asserted human longevity. Those asserting lifespans of 110 years or more are referred to as supercentenarians. Many have either no official verification or are backed only by partial evidence. Cases where longevity has been fully verified, according to modern standards of longevity research, are reflected in an established list of supercentenarians based on the work of organizations such as the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) or Guinness World Records. This article lists living claims greater than that of the oldest person whose age has been independently verified, Kane Tanaka at 116 years, 73 days, and deceased claims greater than that of the oldest person ever whose age has been verified, namely Jeanne Calment who died at the age of 122 years, 164 days. The upper limit for both lists is 130 years.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Jean-Marie Robine is a French demographer, gerontologist, author and journalist, who is best known as being the co-validator of the longevity of Jeanne Calment, the oldest verified supercentenarian of all time, with whom he collaborated.

In 1902, Margaret Ann Neve, born in 1792, became the first verified female supercentenarian. Jeanne Calment of France, who died in 1997 aged 122 years, 164 days, had the longest human lifespan documented. The oldest man ever verified is Jiroemon Kimura of Japan, who died in 2013 aged 116 years and 54 days.

Margaret Ann Neve Guernsey supercentenarian

Margaret Ann Neve was the first recorded female supercentenarian and the second validated human to reach the age of 110 after Geert Adriaans Boomgaard. Neve lived at Saint Peter Port on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel. She was also the first proven individual whose life spanned three centuries.

Jeanne Calment French supercentenarian with the longest confirmed life in history

Jeanne Louise Calment was a French supercentenarian from Arles, and the oldest human whose age was well-documented, with a reputed lifespan of 122 years and 164 days. Her longevity attracted media attention and medical studies of her health and lifestyle.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Over 1,500 supercentenarians have been documented in history. [13] It is likely that more have lived, but the majority of claims to have lived to this age do not have sufficient documentary support to be validated. This is slowly changing as those born after birth registration was standardized in more countries and localities attain supercentenarian age.


Research on the morbidity of supercentenarians has found that they remain free of major age-related diseases (e.g., stroke, cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and diabetes) until the very end of life when they die of exhaustion of organ reserve, which is the ability to return organ function to homeostasis. [12] About 10% of supercentenarians survive until the last 3 months of life without major age-related diseases, as compared to only 4% of semisupercentenarians and 3% of centenarians. [12]

By measuring the biological age of various tissues from supercentenarians, researchers may be able to identify the nature of those that are protected from aging effects. According to a study of 30 different body parts from a 112-year-old female supercentenarian, along with younger controls, the cerebellum is protected from aging according to an epigenetic biomarker of tissue age known as the epigenetic clock — the reading is about 15 years younger than expected in a centenarian. [14] These findings could explain why the cerebellum exhibits fewer neuropathological hallmarks of age-related dementia as compared to other brain regions.

See also

Related Research Articles

This is a list of tables of the oldest people in the world in ordinal ranks. To avoid including false or unconfirmed claims of extreme old age, names here are restricted to those people whose ages have been validated by an international body that specifically deals in longevity research, such as the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) or Guinness World Records (GWR), and others who have otherwise been reliably sourced.

Leslie Stephen Coles was the co-founder and executive director of the Gerontology Research Group where he conducted research on supercentenarians and on aging. He was also a visiting scholar in the computer science department at the University of California, Los Angeles and an assistant researcher in the Department of Surgery, at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Coles had an M.D. and Ph.D..

The New England Centenarian Study is a study of persons aged 100 and over (centenarians) in the Boston area. It is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious studies of its kind in the world.

James Vaupel American demographer

James W. Vaupel, is an American scientist in the fields of aging research, biodemography, and formal demography. He has been instrumental in developing and advancing the idea of the plasticity of longevity, and pioneered research on the heterogeneity of mortality risks and on the deceleration of death rates at the highest ages.

Kane Tanaka is a Japanese supercentarian who at her age of 116 years, 73 days, is the world's oldest verified living person following the death of 117-year-old Chiyo Miyako on 22 July 2018.


  1. Maier, H., Gampe, J., Jeune, B., Robine, J.-M., Vaupel, J. W. (Eds.) (2010). Supercentenarians. Germany: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. p. 325. ISBN   978-3-642-11519-6.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. B. M. Weon & J. H. Je (2009). "Theoretical estimation of maximum human lifespan". Biogerontology. 10 (1): 65–71. doi:10.1007/s10522-008-9156-4. PMID   18560989.
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  8. "Death of a Super-centenarian". The Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Echo. 15 November 1870. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
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  12. Gerontology Research Group: Verified Supercentenarians (Ranked By Age) as of January 1, 2014
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