Mystery emerges around 113-year-old Saskatchewan woman
Published Friday, July 20, 2012 9:16AM EDT
REGINA -- A mystery has emerged about the identity of a Saskatchewan woman who could be not only the oldest person in the province, but one of the oldest in the world.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, the oldest living person in the province is a woman born on July 1, 1899.
That would make her 113 years old.
The ministry notes that if someone dies, it takes a few weeks for a record to reflect the death.
A leading authority on the world's oldest people has heard nothing about her.
Dr. Stephen Coles from the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles says it's always a surprise to hear about someone who is not already on their list.
"We really need to know much more about this anonymous case that the government in Canada knows about so we can get the right documents and validate the claim," says Coles.
"It's important from the point of view of scientific research."
Coles and the other researchers he works with also spend time contacting families of these people of incredible age so they can learn more.
"As a physician, I want to know their secret," he says.
Coles says every one of these people are very different and just asking someone what their secret is doesn't help because they don't know.
"Some drink and smoke cigarettes, which we know is bad for you, and they live a long time in spite of that," he says.
It may just be in the genes, as the common thread identified by Coles and his team is that all the people on the list have relatives who lived a long life.
His research group is currently analyzing blood samples to break down the genome and see what makes it different.
He says he would like to hear from anyone related to a supercentenarian, meaning someone over the age of 110.
Coles has a good chance of finding some of those supercentenarians here.
According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of centenarians in Canada -- a rate that is twice the national average and close to Japan.