Mystery woman oldest in Saskatchewan
A woman living somewhere in Saskatchewan could be not only Canada’s oldest person, but one of the oldest people in the world, but her identity is not known publicly.
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 means the mystery woman turned 113 years old on her latest birthday. The ministry says 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.
“It’s always a surprise what you hear about someone not on our list,” says Dr. Stephen Coles from the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, California.
To date the current and verified oldest person in Canada is a woman named Merle Barwis in British Columbia. She was born December 23, 1900. She would be 111, but this unknown Saskatchewan woman has her age beat by over a year.
“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 Dr. 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 said.
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 commented.
The common thread Coles and his team has identified is that they all have relatives who lived a long life. So it’s assumed the secret is in their genes. 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 -- rate that is twice the national average and close to Japan.
You can find Coles' contact information here.
Edited by CJME's Adriana Christianson and Karen Brownlee