A supercentenarian (sometimes hyphenated as super-centenarian) is a person who has reached the age of 110 years. This age is achieved by about one in 1,000 centenarians. Supercentenarians typically live a life free of major age-related diseases until shortly before the maximum human lifespan is reached.
Norris McWhirter, editor of Guinness World Records, used the term in association with age claim's researcher A. Ross Eckler Jr. in 1976, and the term was further popularised in 1991 by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book Generations.
The term "semisupercentenarian", has been used to describe someone from 105-109. Originally the term "supercentenarian" was used to mean someone well over the age of 100, but 110 years and over became the cutoff point of accepted criteria for demographers.
The Gerontology Research Group maintains a top 30–40 list of oldest verified living people. The researchers estimate, based on a 0.15% to 0.25% survival rate of centenarians until the age of 110, that there should be between 300 and 450 living supercentenarians in the world. 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, Japan, England plus Wales, France, and Italy. The first verified supercentenarian in human history was Dutchman Geert Adriaans Boomgaard (1788–1899), and it was not until the 1980s that the oldest verified age surpassed 115.
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).. Other scholars, such as French demographer Jean-Marie Robine, 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 1620–1732) does not meet the standards required by Guinness World Records.
Church of Norway 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.
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.
Maria Branyas (born 4 March 1907) of Spain is the world's oldest living person, aged 116 years, 266 days. Juan Vicente Pérez (born 27 May 1909) is the world's oldest living man, aged 114 years, 182 days.
Research into centenarians
In May 2021, whole genome sequencing analysis of 81 Italian semi-supercentenarians and supercentenarians were published, along with 36 control group people from the same region who were simply of advanced 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. About 10% of supercentenarians survive until the last three months of life without major age-related diseases, as compared to only 4% of semi-supercentenarians and 3% of centenarians.
By measuring the biological age of various tissues from supercentenarians, researchers may be able to identify the nature of those that are protected from ageing 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 ageing, 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. These findings could explain why the cerebellum exhibits fewer neuropathological hallmarks of age-related dementia as compared to other brain regions.
A 2021 genomic study identified genetic characteristics that protect against age-related diseases, particularly variants that improve DNA repair. Five variants were found to be significant, affecting STK17A (increased expression) and COA1 (reduced expression) genes. Supercentenarians also had an unexpectedly low level of somatic mutations.
- Maier, H.; Gampe, J.; Jeune, B.; Robine, J.-M.; Vaupel, J. W., eds. (25 May 2010). Supercentenarians. Demographic Research Monographs. Springer. p. 338. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-11520-2. ISBN 978-3-642-11519-6.
- Anderson, Stacy L.; Sebastiani, Paola; Dworkis, Daniel A.; Feldman, Lori; Perls, Thomas T. (4 January 2012). "Health Span Approximates Life Span Among Many Supercentenarians: Compression of Morbidity at the Approximate Limit of Life Span". The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. 67A (4): 395–405. doi:10.1093/gerona/glr223. PMC 3309876. PMID 22219514.
- B. M. Weon & J. H. Je (17 June 2008). "Theoretical estimation of maximum human lifespan". Biogerontology. 10 (1): 65–71. doi:10.1007/s10522-008-9156-4. PMID 18560989. S2CID 8554128.
- "Death of a super-centenarian". The Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Echo. 15 November 1870.
- "The Doctor and the Microbes". The Inter Ocean. 10 October 1897.
- Gibb, G. (1876). "Ultra-centenarian Longevity". The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 5: 82–101. doi:10.2307/2841365. JSTOR 2841365.
- "GRG World Supercentenarian Rankings List". Gerontology Research Group. 23 November 2020. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. — see note 2 at bottom of page)
- "GRG World Supercentenarian Rankings List". Gerontology Research Group. 9 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021. — see note 2 at bottom of page)
- Rosenwaike, Ira; Stone, Leslie F. (2003). "Verification of the Ages of Supercentenarians in the United States: Results of a Matching Study". Demography. 40 (4): 727–739. doi:10.1353/dem.2003.0038. JSTOR 1515205. PMID 14686139. S2CID 22168523.
- CSMonitor Staff (10 August 2010). "Supercentenarians around the world". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- "Photo Gallery for Supercentenarians born before 1850, as of May 17, 2019". Gerontology Research Group. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- "How are records measured?". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
- Young, Thomas Emley (1899). On centenarians; and the duration of the human race : a fresh and authentic enquiry; with historical notes, criticisms, and speculations. Columbia University Libraries. London, C. and E. Layton.
- "World's oldest man ever passes away aged 116". Guinness World Records. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
- Atwal, Sanj (19 January 2023). "World's oldest living person confirmed as US-born Spanish woman". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
- Sánchez, Luisa (17 May 2022). "World's oldest man living confirmed as Juan Vicente Pérez aged 112". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
- Rachel Nuwer (4 July 2014). "Keeping Track of the Oldest People in the World". Smithsonian.
- Gayle White (8 February 2006). "Supercentenarians giving researchers clues on longevity". Chicago Tribune. Cox News Service.
- "Longevity gene keeps mind sharp". BBC News. 26 December 2006.
- Page "Mission Statement" on the site of Supercentenarian Research Foundation
- Garagnani, Paolo; et al. (5 April 2021). "Whole-genome sequencing analysis of semi-supercentenarians". eLife. 10: e57849. doi:10.7554/eLife.57849. PMC 8096429. PMID 33941312.
- Horvath S, Mah V, Lu AT, Woo JS, Choi OW, Jasinska AJ, Riancho JA, Tung S, Coles NS, Braun J, Vinters HV, Coles LS (2015). "The cerebellum ages slowly according to the epigenetic clock". Aging. 7 (5): 294–306. doi:10.18632/aging.100742. PMC 4468311. PMID 26000617.
- Haridy, Rich (5 May 2021). "Biggest genetic study of supercentenarians reveals clues to healthy aging". New Atlas. Retrieved 5 May 2021.