|Jeanne Calment holds the record for being the world's oldest person. Reuters|
By Jung Min-ho
Jeanne Calment, the woman who holds the title as the world's longest-living person, may have been a fraud, according to Russian researchers.
The French woman died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days ― a record confirmed by Guinness World Records. But Nikolai Zak, a mathematician and a member of the Society of Naturalists of Moscow University, said in his study, "Jeanne Calment: The secret of longevity," that he believes she was 99 when she died.
Zak claimed that his research, based on various documents and photos, led him to the conclusion that the daughter of Jeanne Calment, Yvonne, took the identity of her mother to avoid "paying the inheritance tax."
Official documents show that the daughter died of pleurisy in 1934. But the scholar believes it was actually the mother who died. If his claims are true, the woman who died in 1997 was Yvonne and she was aged just 99.
As evidence, Zak said the woman had lost less than an inch of her height by the time she was well into her hundreds, far less than what normal people would have. He also said a passport for the mother in the 1930s lists different eye colors than she had later in life and the two had other physical discrepancies in their foreheads and chins.
But his study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, has been criticized by some scholars, including Jean-Marie Robine, a French demographer and gerontologist who validated Calment's age.