Stephen Coles has spent 15 years studying the tissues of people who live over the age of 110 because something in the genetic makeup of super-centenarians has enabled them to avoid diseases. While some feel this is a great way to learn how to prevent disease, medical ethicists have some concerns.
Walter Breuning is turning 114 today. And that makes him the oldest man in the world. He's a retired railroader. He has been a widower for 53 years. And he has spent the last 30 years at a retirement home in Great Falls, Montana. His mind is still sharp. He can still walk to the dining room for his meals. He takes no prescription medication. And he only stopped smoking in 1999, at the age of 103. Montana Public Radio's Emilie Ritter paid him a visit in the days leading up to his 114th birthday.
Walter Breuning is part of an elite demographic group known as "Super-Centenarians" ... people who have lived to be 110 or older. There are only 82 verified Super-Centenarians in the world right now. And this morning, as part of Shift,
our project on the demographic changes that are sweeping Canada and the world, we're going meet someone who thinks those 82 people could be very important.
Stephen Coles is a physician and a stem-cell researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He also heads up the Gerontology Research Group and the Supercentenarian Research Foundation. He was in Los Angeles.