Centenarians Not So Rare Anymore
Numbers spiked 44% from 2008 to 2014: CDC report
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2016 10:22 AM CST
Bernice Gordon, born on Jan. 11, 1914, poses for a portrait at her home in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – This should boost your hope for a long life, especially if you're a woman: The number of Americans living past 100 has spiked by 44% over the past six years. Centenarian numbers have risen from 15,000 in 1980 and 50,281 in 2000 to 72,197 in 2014, according to a new CDC report. Some 80% of centenarians in 2014 were women. "There is certainly a wow factor here, that there are this many people in the United States over 100 years old," a demographer tells the New York Times. "Not so long ago in our society, this was somewhat rare." But the new figures are just "the very tip of the iceberg," he adds, noting baby boomers will soon cause the number of seniors in the country to skyrocket.

Centenarians are also living longer—a trend that should continue with baby boomers who've benefited from vaccines, antibiotics, and other medical advancements. The death rate for female centenarians fell 14% from 2008 to 2014 to 36.5 per 100 women, while the rate for men fell 20% to 33.2 per 100 men. The rate also declined across all ethnic groups: Hispanic centenarians had the lowest death rate of 22.3 per 100 in 2014. Heart disease was the leading cause of death, though Alzheimer's deaths spiked 119% from 2000 to 2014 to claim the second spot. "People who are physically fit enough to survive over 100 years ultimately succumb to diseases afflicting the mind and cognitive dysfunction," an expert says, per Live Science.