Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine: 150 year old people?

By | January 22, 2009

Here is an interesting book on line: Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, Published: 1896  It describes the oldest known person at that time as reaching 150 year of age:

According to the compilers of these records, France can claim the honor of having possessed the oldest woman of modern times. This venerable dame, having attained one hundred and fifty years, died peacefully in a hamlet in the Haute Garonne, where she had spent her prolonged existence, subsisting during the closing decade of her life on goat’s milk and cheese. The woman preserved all her mental faculties to the last, but her body became attenuated to an extraordinary degree, and her skin was like parchment.” –

Advice on living a long time:

According to Hufeland and other authorities on longevity, sobriety, regular habits, labor in the open air, exercise short of fatigue, calmness of mind, moderate intellectual power, and a family life are among the chief aids to longevity. For this reason we find the extraordinary instances of longevity among those people who amidst bodily labor and in the open air lead a simple life, agreeable to nature. Such are farmers, gardeners, hunters, soldiers, and sailors. In these situations man may still maintain the age of one hundred and fifty or even one hundred and sixty.  … –

The top 5 oldest verified persons according to wikipedia:

Rank Name Age Born Died Sex Notes
1 Jeanne Calment 122 years, 164 days 21 February 1875 4 August 1997 F Flag of France Oldest person ever verified. French.
2 Shigechiyo Izumi 120? years, 237 days 29 June 1865? 21 February 1986 M Flag of Japan Oldest male ever verified. Japanese. Disputed (may have been 105).
3 Sarah Knauss 119 years, 97 days 24 September 1880 30 December 1999 F Flag of the United States Oldest American ever verified and oldest living person verified 1998-1999.
4 Lucy Hannah 117 years, 248 days 16 July 1875 21 March 1993 F Flag of the United States Oldest African American ever verified.
5 Marie-Louise Meilleur 117 years, 230 days 29 August 1880 16 April 1998 F Flag of Canada Oldest Canadian ever verified and oldest living person verified 1997-1998.

What were Jeanne’s secrets of longevitiy?

Calment was born in Arles and lived there for all of her life.[1] Her father, Nicolas, was a shipbuilder, and her mother, Marguerite, was from a family of millers. Her close family members also lived to an advanced age: her older brother, François, lived to the age of 97, her father to 93, and her mother to 86. In 1896, at the age of 21, she married her second cousin (grandson of her great-uncle) Fernand Calment,[4] a wealthy store owner. His wealth made it possible for Calment never to have to work; instead she led a relaxed lifestyle, pursuing hobbies like tennis, cycling, swimming, rollerskating, piano and opera.[1]

… Calment’s remarkable health presaged her later record. At age 85, she took up fencing, and at 100, she was still riding a bicycle.

She gave up smoking only five years before her death[11] at the age of 117 years. Though she relapsed for a year she finally gave up smoking at the age of 119 years (blindness made it difficult for her to light a cigarette, and she was reluctant to ask others for help). When asked on one occasion for her prescription for a long life, she mentioned garlic, vegetables, cigarettes, red wine, and avoiding brawls. On another occasion, she ascribed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance for her age to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed onto her skin, as well as a diet of port wine, and nearly 2 pounds of chocolate eaten every week.[8]

Calment lived on her own until shortly before her 110th birthday, when it was decided that she needed to be moved to a nursing home. However, Calment was still in good shape, and was able to walk until a fall at age 114 years and 11 months, which required surgery.[4][9]

I try to each chocolate (without sugar) daily. I wonder if pure tobacco cigarettes, without all the modern deadly additives, has any health benefits? Hard to imagine that it would. There may be another difference regarding what she was smoking:

In the United States, tobacco is often fertilized with the mineral apatite, which partially starves the plant of nitrogen to produce a more desired flavor. Apatite, however, contains radium, lead 210, and polonium 210—which are known radioactive carcinogens.

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