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Calment's Cure

By Sarah RichardsonJanuary 1, 1996 6:00 AM


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Baby boomers nervously pondering taking hormones as they look forward to old age may take heart from Jeanne Calment, the Frenchwoman who has been a senior citizen for nearly half her life. On October 17 Calment turned 120 years old and 238 days, surpassing the world record for longevity set by a Japanese man in 1986. In her long life, Calment met Vincent van Gogh in Arles when she was 14 (said he was ugly and smelled of drink) and saw the Eiffel Tower being built. Her only grandson died in 1963. Although Calment’s health has been good, her habits have not. Until ten years ago, she smoked regularly, and she has only recently given up her daily glass of port. Though blind and almost completely deaf, Calment is still sharp. Her vision of the future, she says, is very brief. The Calment secret? Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life. I think I will die laughing.

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