The world’s oldest woman, and only living person born in the 19th century

Meet Emma Morano of Italy, who was born in 1899 and has attained the status of both “oldest living person” and “only person born in the 19th century”. She turned 117 on November 29.

Click on the screenshot below to go to a video of the world’s oldest woman. Be sure to turn the sound on.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-12-16-33-pm

The New York Times also documents her life, which was tough. But thanks to her diet of three eggs per day (according to the video, two raw and one fried), she’s still here. Times writer Elisabetta Polvoledo says this:

I wrote about Ms. Morano two years ago, when she was only 115, and she told me she believed that her secret to longevity was eating three raw eggs a day and remaining single.

Ms. Morano has no doubts about how she made it this long: Her elixir for longevity consists of raw eggs, which she has been eating — three per day [JAC: note disparity between Reuters video and this piece] — since her teens when a doctor recommended them to counter anemia. Assuming she has been true to her word, Ms. Morano would have consumed around 100,000 eggs in her lifetime, give or take a thousand, cholesterol be damned.

She is also convinced that being single for most of her life, after an unhappy marriage that ended in 1938 following the death of an infant son, has kept her kicking. Separation was rare then, and divorce became legal in Italy only in 1970. She said she had plenty of suitors after that, but never chose another partner. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she said.

Ms. Morano, who has cut back to two eggs a day, lives a very simple life. She has been homebound for some years, and her diet remains Spartan, if unorthodox: In addition to eggs, she eats bananas and ladyfinger cookies.

Of course when all these people are asked the “secret of longevity”, they say the same thing, which is basically “do what I did.” Still there’s some wisdom in the following:

Ms. Morano’s doctor of nearly two decades, Carlo Bava, said that despite her age, his patient was still in excellent health, and her memory sharp. “She’s in great form,” he said. “And I think she’s happy to have made it to this birthday.”

Diet aside, Dr. Bava said he thought Ms. Morano had lived such a long life because she was cared for. “The secret is in growing old with people who love you, which is different from growing old and being put up with,” he said.

But maybe there’s something to eggs after all. I just remember that the world’s oldest cat, Creme Puff, who lived to be 38 years and 3 days old (!!!!), was fed on a diet of asparagus, coffee with heavy cream, broccoli, and bacon and eggs.

63 Comments

  1. BobTerrace
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Raw eggs – snot for me.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Me neither. I’m worried about bacteria. I make eggnog with dried egg powder. A little vanilla, dash of nutmeg… works great.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Me neither. I’m worried about bacteria.

        Surely that would be even more of a risk for egg powder – which would be made from multiple eggs per serving.
        Surely there would be pretty strong evolutionary pressures on all organisms that lay eggs to develop an effective antibacterial outer surface to the egg.
        If I understood the “Eggwina” crisis of some years ago, the issue for chicken eggs was not Salmonella in the eggs, but Salmonella on the eggs (since eggs frequently carry external faeces traces). So effective washing of the eggs would be sufficient for keeping food production systems sterile. But also a real weak point.
        With duck eggs on the other hand, there were reports (I don’t know how well founded) that they could be internally infected with Salmonella, making them decidedly more risky. You do, very occasionally, see duck eggs on sale, but I don’t recall having ever tried them.
        <On average, I’d be more concerned about eating bacteria on flesh of any sort, since by the time that meets the outside world, it’s dead and devoid of an effective immune system.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Egg powder in the US is pasteurized so it should be safe.
          Duck eggs are delicious. We used to have a half dozen Khaki Campbells in the back yard so we had fresh eggs every day. The eggs are richer flavored than chicken eggs and quite frequently have double yokes. Great for making cake.

  2. GBJames
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I like eggs, but not that much.

    • Alexander
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      You can try an old Belgian recipe: Throw a raw egg into a glass of strong Belgian beer, preferably brewed by monks, stir, and drink. Saint Peter at the gate will have to wait a bit longer for you.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        I think I’ll try that without the egg. 😉

      • darrelle
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like an excellent health-food shake to me. Well rounded enough to be a meal replacement.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Sounds like the egg of the dog that bit you.

  3. Mark Perew
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Is there no one born in 1900 still alive? That year was still the 19th century.

    • mordacious1
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Two, according to Wiki:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_living_people

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia, there are two.

      But please tell me you’re not one of those spoilsports who stubbornly refused to party like it was 1999.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        I remember seeing a new millennium-related gift item in a gift store in late 1999. On the bottom of it was a label, the words of which I wish in hindsight I had taken the trouble to copy down so as to document my observation of the label wording. The label words-to-the-effect acknowledged that the 21st century would begin January 1, 2001, but, since most or many people considered the 21st century to start on January 1, 2000, the company would follow suit. (“Git It While the Gittin’s Good,” eh?)

        Apparently anything is so because someone thinks/most people THINK so.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          Certainly social conventions, such as where the calendar begins and ends, are that way because people think so. There’s no objective astronomical or historical event you can point to and say: This is where we count centuries from. It’s just an arbitrary point in time that we agree to label that way.

          • Filippo
            Posted December 17, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

            “Certainly social conventions, such as where the calendar begins and ends, are that way because people think so.”

            I cheerily agree with you on that specific aspect.

            Once people agree on the starting point, counting begins. Social convention has no bearing on quantity. A bank loan officer (in a non-banking mode otherwise possibly predisposed to consider the 21st century to have started 1/1/2000) would not allow the bank to be shortchanged a year’s worth of interest.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted December 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

              If your loan officer can deal with leap years and Daylight Savings Time, I’m sure they won’t be troubled by a 99-year century that ended long before the bank came into existence.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      And the controversy over when a new century begins is resurrected, after we’d all thought it had gone away 17 years ago. (or 16 years ago? Now I’m all confused.)

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Personally, I blame Dionysius Exiguus for forgetting to include a year zero.
      Maybe computer scientists seeking religious bullshit to wade through should adopt him as the Patron Saint of the Fencepost Error.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t look a day over 97.

  5. garman
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Dare I say that part of the secret to her longevity was her genetic makeup?

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Genetic makeup? Is Monsanto in the cosmetics business now?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Very likely, yes.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Her real secret is “be a statistical outlier.”

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Something we should all aspire to!

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

          😀

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

          [Sets about programme to eliminate average people.]

          • rickflick
            Posted December 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            We could keep a handful of average blokes to keep the shape of the curve. I would hate to think our program had done nothing but evolve a new average.
            😎

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

              Since most measures of human beings are pretty close to a Gaussian distribution, then eliminating from (mean-x] to [mean+x] shouldn’t change the average (mean). Median, mode and variance would change, but only half the people in the remaining sample would know what that meant, so … Meh.
              If you waned to keep the median and, then keeping uniform-sized cuts from each bin in the deleted interval would achieve that. Pretty losely. To retain the mode, you’d have to use a much more sophisticated filter than a simple notch.
              It always used to depress me when people tried to cover up their equipment failures by editing the data sets. Then they got depressed because I (a) noticed and (b) often diagnosed the problem.

              • rickflick
                Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

                In that case I’ll stick with our program and cancel the idea of an average-bloke corral. We can all be exceptional and hopefully above average a la the Lake Wobegon school system.

    • Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking the same. Eggs aside, I think her genome is worth sequencing.

  6. Grania Spingies
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hail, fellow lady-biscuit nibbler, hail.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like you have a bright, or at least nearly unending, future.

  7. Jonathan Dore
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Even more than the age, it’s the idea of having lived in three centuries that’s so awe-inspiring. According to the Wikipedia list of 100 oldest people on record, 52 of them could make this claim — and doubtless there were others in previous century transitions, though certainly fewer, and very few who would have had verified birth records.

    • Filippo
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if some previous oldest-person-in- the-world was born early-enough in the 1890’s to remember some sufficiently significant amount of time in that decade, and live into the first decade of the 21st century.

      • Jonathan Dore
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        According to the same Wiki list (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_verified_oldest_people) the earliest-born person who lived into the 21st century, Marie Brémont, was born in 1886, so at the age of 14 by the turn of the 20th century, she would have had substantial memories of the 19th (she died in 2001). Several people on the list lived 7 or 8 years on each side of the 20th century.

  8. dabertini
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Eat your veggies PCC(e)!! Please wear a helmet when you in-line skate. We need you here for a very long,long,long time.

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Three eggs a day puts her in the caloric restriction zone, I think. It’d have more to do with that.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Well, it doesn’t say that that is all she eats! Surely there are a couple of beers at dinner time.

      • Joe
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        plus the 2 packs of marlboro reds

      • Alexander
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

        Beer, an Italian lady of that age? There is a good chance she never drank a beer in her life. When I lived in Italy, one day a shepherd came by with his sheep, and we invited him for a drink. I showed him a beer bottle (it was very hot) and he said OK. But when he sipped the beer he looked astonished and said: bah…. your wine is off!”

        • GBJames
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          You do have a point. Chianti is more likely.

    • barn owl
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      I have a number of colleagues who do research on caloric restriction/biology of aging. Interestingly, none of them seems to be applying this strategy to their own longevity – in fact, several classify as obese, or even morbidly obese. The strategy now seems to be: Eat whatever you like and don’t exercise – there’s always rapamycin! (Sorry if that’s a bit snarky)

      Years ago I was discussing a caloric restriction diet, developed by Roy Walford and his daughter, with a colleague who worked in aging research. He’d met Walford several times, and recommended against the diet, because Walford and some of his followers “just didn’t look like they were enjoying the strategy very much, nor did they seem to be aging particularly well.” This was before Walford was diagnosed with ALS – and there’s some discussion (and experiments with a mouse model for ALS) indicating that caloric restriction may have hastened the progression of the disease.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        I don’t know what rapamycin is supposed to be doing in terms of … whatever we are talking about.

        I have heard the “no exercise” argument, sounds plausible. It is to build the body – you can’t outrun your mouth. Also, Michael Phelps eats so many calories but he’s in a water bath most the time.

        I have a feeling you know where I got those ideas from – Presto~ by Penn Jillette, and then Ray Cronise – he has a TED MED talk from 2010.

        • barn owl
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          Rapamycin was used as an immunosuppressant in transplant patients, but its molecular action is through mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin), which regulates cellular metabolic signaling pathways and nutrient sensing. I guess the idea is essentially to “restrict calories” by inhibiting mTOR-related pathways with rapamycin.

          #NotMyResearch

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

            well the only thing I’d add here is that one 50g egg has 187 mg of cholesterol which Google says is 63% your daily value.

            IOW, a very large amount, like probably too much. and she eats three a day.

            • barn owl
              Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

              mTOR pathways deal nutrients such as glucose and amino acids, not cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol intake doesn’t really affect serum cholesterol levels as much as once thought – the serum levels are more influenced by genetic factors. Some individuals can consume several eggs daily without any noticeable impact on serum cholesterol levels (I’m one such lucky person, as was my paternal grandfather). Not that I usually eat that many eggs … 😉

  10. jaxkayaker
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if it’s the eggs, or caloric restriction that should be credited with her extended lifespan. Plus, genetics, as others mentioned.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”

      — Sherlock Holmes, “A Scandal in Bohemia”

      • GBJames
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure Arthur Conan Doyle was all that up on scientific method.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          Well, yes, there was his fondness for spiritualism, not to mention the infamous fairy incident.

          Still, it’s hard to draw meaningful correlations from a sample size of one.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          Doyle very likely knew and appreciated the scientific method from his time at medical school in Edinburgh (the same one attended by Darwin?). Whether he applied it in his personal life and outside his medical career is a separate question.

          • GBJames
            Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            I’m not so sure about that. He was a big-time fan of the paranormal, very much into spiritualism fond of holding séances.

            His most successful character was very much the rationalist and a creature of science. But he himself was a sort of religious whack-job, his having trained as an MD notwithstanding.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted December 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

              That is, indeed the contradiction – he knew the methods (of Bell, of “Holmes”) but either failed to apply them to his own life, or chose to not apply them to his own life. Despite a Jesuit education, he became an agnostic (allegedly). He was a strong supporter of vaccination. But sometime in later life (after his son’s death due to WW1) he became much more serious about the fruitloopery, despite also associating with people (e.g. Harry Houdini) who made a habit of debunking the frauds that litter the grounds of fruitloopery. It is a most peculiar change. rather disturbing really to see that someone with a functional brain can slide into such stupidities in later life.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 17, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

                I’m not sure one can “know the methods” in any real sense and wander off into Loopieville. Perhaps he once “knew” them and managed to forget.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted December 17, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

                Francis Collins knows the methods if anybody does. That didn’t stop him from wandering off into Loopieville.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 17, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

                Point taken.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        That’s why I hypothesized instead.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 16, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Is a “capital” mistake one that results in one getting decapitated?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          In Doyle’s time it was probably several centuries since someone had been executed by beheading in Britain. But the term “capital [punishment | crime]” was still routine for matters that would result in the death penalty. It’s barely a half-century since we gave that punishment the long drop.

  11. somer
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Creme Puffs alleged diet would surely kill most cats pretty fast. I think his staff made that up – he may have the occasional treats.

  12. Frank Bath
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    To think Queen Victoria was on the throne of England when this lady was born.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Another 3 (or 5?) years before she waddled off this mortal coil and fell off her perch.
      What was the parrot doing balanced on that fish?

  13. Mike
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I presume she has the occasional laxative,? If I ate all those eggs, I would be bunged up good and proper.lol


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