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Guinness shaves years off centenarian

UPI News Service, 03/25/2011 

The Guinness Book of World Records says it has disproved an Ohio woman's claim to be 119 years old -- and thus the oldest person now alive.

Guinness said its researchers found Census reports showing Rebecca Lanier was 14 in 1920 and 24 in 1930, suggesting she was born in 1905 or 1906, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That would make her no older than 106 now, a respectable age but no match for the official world's oldest person, Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga., who is about five months away from her 115th birthday.

Lanier, who lives near Cleveland, has no birth certificate, but Robert Young, a Guinness gerontology consultant, said the evidence is conclusive.

"Both the 1920 and 1930 census reports were based on verbal responses, so even with any slight misspellings, this shouldn't deter us from recognizing who is who," he told the Journal-Constitution.

Both Cooper and Lanier have years to go to rival Jeanne Calment of Arles, France. Calment, who gave up smoking at 118, claimed to have met the artist Vincent Van Gogh and died at 122 in 1997, is the longest-living person whose age had been officially verified.

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