The Secret To Long Life

As I was browsing the web this past week, I came across this article about a woman named Hendrikje van Andel-Van_andel_113_large
Schipper who lived to be 115 years old and was the oldest woman alive before her death in 2005. In the article, two points are brought up regarding how van Andel-Schipper may have died and why she may have lived for so long. When van Andel-Schipper died (her brain was in great condition), she had two remaining stem cells. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the potential to become specialized cells, such as heart cells or blood cells. The article states, “humans are typically born with around 20,000 of these cells, and on average about 1,000 work to keep your bloodstream pumping.” The depleted quantity of stem cells may have been the cause of van Andel-Schipper’s death. However, her cause of death is still unknown. I thought it was interesting that a person’s quantity of stem cells might determine that person’s lifespan. If this is true, this just highlights the fact that stem cells are important to human livelihood. I had never thought that running out of stem cells may cause death, or that humans even ran out of stem cells. Another point the article bought up was that van Andel-Schipper’s white blood cells were mutated, which might have the key to her long life. This reaffirms that some genetic mutations may be beneficial.

I really enjoyed thinking about the points the article bought up. If stem cells are the key to long life, then stem cell research may become even more popular than it is now. Also if van Andel-Schipper’s mutated blood cells were the key to her long life, is it possible that the mutated gene could be isolated and inserted into another being through gene therapy? If such technology should arise that humans could extend their lifespan, should humans take advantage of it? van Andel-Schipper may have given us clues to the secret of long life. I am excited to see what new discoveries arise in the next decade.

Click here to read the article: Blood from world’s oldest woman suggests life limit


“Blood from World’s Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit.” AOL. AOL Inc., 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <;.

Nederlands: Van Andel-Schipper’s 113de verjaardag foto van Gebruiker:Houghi, ter beschikking gesteld onder GNU/FDL. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons, 24 Mar. 2004. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


5 thoughts on “The Secret To Long Life

  1. Wow that was really amazing. It seems like we are getting closer to extending the life span of humans. If it turns out that these stem cells can tell a persons life span, then we can start looking at ways to rebuild these stem cells. If we can rebuild these cels, theres no telling how much longer we can live.

  2. Dross I

    Looks like we are getting closer to discovering the fountain of youth.. The question then becomes how long is too long. It then depends on the quality of our lives and the impact. on society.

  3. Laura K

    This is such an inspiring article! Thank you for posting this great one! I think this is a great scientific article about death, but I believe that what underlies this article is the death denying society we all live in. Everyone wants to live as long as possible and perhaps what we need to research more is not how much longer to live, but how we can live a fuller and more fulfilling life. Although it is a great feat this woman was able to live this long, I think that we should focus more on ways to be more spiritually and mentally aware of our lives, not just physically.

  4. Absolutely incredible! Stem cells are so important and this article has really made me think more about how to incorporate stem cell content into class. There is just so much to learn!

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