James Sisnett Is The Oldest Man In Town: How Does He Do It?

Submitted by Rosemary Parkinson


James Sisnett - Photo Credit Nation Newspaper

I am in awe of Barbadian Mr. Sisnett and wish him even a longer life….watching him on TV doing his little exercises brought tears to my eyes, hearing him speak and seeing his smile so wide and beautiful was truly wonderful. At 111 years old I so wanted to find out from him what his diet was like through the years….but I was told that I could not document Mr. Sisnett ’cause ‘someone else’ was doing it.  But I have thought about him a lot.

Now I see in The Nation two scientists are here to take samples of his blood and his family in order to study his and their longevity. Perhaps these scientists will discover what I already feel I know…his diet has kept him healthy and strong…the old time way of eating built up his immune system. Bet he did not fill himself up with fast or processed foods out of the U.S.  Bet he did not have a farm that sprayed Monsanto products all over the soil and planted GMO seeds so his family could have ‘fresh’ food on the table. But then I am only speculating.

Perhaps these scientists will discover all of the above, tell all the companies producing GMO’s up there…! Ha! Like they will take heed. Perhaps the pharmaceutical people will ignore their findings or sell their genes in a pill that will promise longevity and make millions of dollars more on it. Of course those pills will probably have some corn syrup in them, perhaps a touch of grain just to make things a little better for their brothers in the funeral business.

I hope  our researchers (and we have great ones often not thought of in Jamaica, Trinidad and I would imagine here although they seem to be quiet silent on certain matters like what is inside our animal feed for instance) will be looking into Mr. Sisnett’s longevity so that perhaps we in the Caribbean can fully understand why our ‘young’ people are dying of non-communicable diseases so readily these days! …and then do something about it for us. Just for us!

Although this is a slightly different story…I thought it might be apt to place it here….sent to me by a dear friend in Jamaica:

The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta and David Lacks, circa 1945, standing side by side (

By Lauren Monsen
Staff Writer
Washington — Through a quirk of fate, an unassuming African-American woman who died of cancer in 1951 became the source of a cell line that has been cultivated for 60 years in laboratories worldwide, contributing to cancer research and medical milestones such as the polio vaccine, cloning, genetic testing and in vitro fertilization.
Today, HeLa cells — named after their donor, Henrietta Lacks — “are the most commonly used cells in research labs all around the world; they’re used in every country where people do research on cells,” according to Rebecca Skloot, author of the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Skloot said Henrietta Lacks’ story is important not only because of the lives affected by the HeLa cell line, but also because it raises questions about economic justice and scientific ethics.

Lacks was a tobacco farmer and the wife of a shipyard worker in Baltimore County, Maryland, when she was diagnosed with a malignant cervical tumor at age 30. During her treatment, doctors at Johns Hopkins University Hospital removed a sample of her cancerous cells for research. The cells were removed without her knowledge or consent, a common practice at the time. Lacks died in the “colored” ward of the hospital at age 31, leaving five children.

Her story didn’t end there. Using Lacks’ cells, which continued to multiply, researchers succeeded in establishing for the first time an “immortal” human cell line grown in laboratory culture (in previous experiments, human cells grown in culture would die after a certain period of time). “I’ve talked to countless scientists about HeLa, and none could explain why Henrietta’s cells grew so powerfully when others didn’t,” said Skloot.

It would be difficult to overestimate the cells’ critical role in ongoing research, she added. “Since the ’50s, if researchers wanted to figure out how cells behaved in a certain environment, or reacted to a specific chemical, they’ve turned to HeLa cells,” Skloot said. The cell line grew faster and thus produced results faster; “it’s hardy, it’s inexpensive, and it’s everywhere.” HeLa cells have helped scientists understand cellular function and human genetics, and develop treatments for many diseases.
Neither the doctors who retrieved the cells nor scientist George Gey, who created the cell line from Lacks’ tissue sample, sought or received financial gain. Lacks’ descendants have not been compensated. The HeLa cells, however, have been enormously profitable for pharmaceutical and research firms.

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  1. Scientists Warn of Link Between Dangerous New Pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup

    A plant pathologist experienced in protecting against biological warfare recently warned the USDA of a new, self-replicating, micro-fungal virus-sized organism which may be causing spontaneous abortions in livestock, sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy, and wilt in Monsanto’s RR corn.

    Dr. Don M. Huber, who coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens committee of the American Phytopathological Society, as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System, warned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that this pathogen threatens the US food and feed supply and can lead to the collapse of the US corn and soy export markets. Likewise, deregulation of GE alfalfa “could be a calamity,” he noted in his letter (reproduced in full below).

    On January 27, Vilsack gave blanket approval to all genetically modified alfalfa. Following orders from President Obama, he also removed buffer zone requirements. This is seen as a deliberate move to contaminate natural crops and destroy the organic meat and dairy industry which relies on GM-free alfalfa. Such genetic contamination will give the biotech industry complete control over the nation’s fourth largest crop. It will also ease the transition to using GE-alfalfa as a biofuel.


    Tukey also conveyed that while Huber admits that much further study is needed to definitively confirm the link between Round-Up and the pathogen, “In the meantime, he said, it’s grossly irresponsible of the government to allow Roundup Ready alfalfa, which would bring the widespread spraying of Roundup to millions of more acres and introduce far more Roundup into the food supply.”

    Huber, who has been studying plant pathogens for over 50 years and glyphosate for over 20 years, has noticed an increase in pathogens associated with the herbicide. In an interview with the Organic and Non-GMO Report last May, he discussed his team’s conclusions that glyphosate can,

    “significantly increase the severity of various plant diseases, impair plant defense to pathogens and diseases, and immobilize soil and plant nutrients rendering them unavailable for plant use.”

    This is because “glyphosate stimulates the growth of fungi and enhances the virulence of pathogens.” In the last 15-18 years, the number of plant pathogens has increased, he told the Non-GMO Report. “There are more than 40 diseases reported with use of glyphosate, and that number keeps growing as people recognize the association (between glyphosate and disease).”

    In his undated letter to the USDA, Huber highlighted “the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations.” He reported that spontaneous abortions occurred in nearly half the cattle where high concentrations of the pathogen were found in their feed. Huber notes that the wheat “likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.”

    Other Research Supports Huber’s Warning

    Last year, Argentine scientists found that Roundup causes birth defects in frogs and chickens. Publishing their paper, “Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling,” in Chemical Research in Toxicology, Alejandra Paganelli, et al. also produced a large set of reports for the public at GMWatch:

    “In Argentina and Paraguay, doctors and residents living in GM soy producing areas have reported serious health effects from glyphosate spraying, including high rates of birth defects as well as infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages, and cancers. Scientific studies collected in the new report confirm links between exposure to glyphosate and premature births, miscarriages, cancer, and damage to DNA and reproductive organ cells.”

    One of the researchers, Andrés Carrasco, told GM Watch, “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy.”

    When trying to present these findings to the public in August of last year, Dr. Carrasco and the audience were attacked by 100 thugs who beat them and their cars with clubs, leaving one person paralyzed, Amnesty International reported. Local police and a wealthy GM rice grower were implicated in that attack.

    In a 2009 study, researchers linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto’s GM maize, based on Monsanto’s trial data. As we reported last year, Gilles-Eric Séralini, et al., concluded that the raw data from all three GMO studies reveal that novel pesticide residues will be present in food and feed and may pose grave health risks to those consuming them.

    In a 2005 paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Sophie Richard, et al. compared the toxicity of Roundup with that of just glyphosate, its active ingredient. They found Roundup to be more toxic, owing to its adjuvants. They also found that endocrine disruption increased over time so that one-tenth the amount prescribed for agriculture caused cell deformation. Citing other research, they also reported that Roundup adjuvants bond with DNA.

    Such negative findings probably explain why Monsanto and other biotech firms so vociferously block independent research.

    Tom Laskawy at Grist estimated that in 2008, nearly 200 million pounds of glyphosate were poured onto US soils. But, he notes that “exact figures are a closely guarded secret thanks to the USDA’s refusal to update its pesticide use database after 2007.” This figure more than doubles what the EPA estimates was used in 2000.


  2. I saw a lot of this information re Monsanto…appalling figures of what this much-too-greedy-to-be-true murdering company has achieved with their disgusting products! We need to ban them totally here in Barbados….in the Caribbean for that matter. NOW!

  3. …and I just cannot believe that the President of the USA who I simply adored has fallen into the rut of having to bend to the disgusting practices of Monsanto and all the rest of the chemical companies out there….and please do not tell me that he probably does not know what is going on….

  4. The Corporate Control over “Science,” “Research” and the Altering of the Facts in the News

    As you listen and read the Mainstream Media, more and more often you hear of researchers and industry spokespeople who say that this condition or that condition is “genetic.”

    However when you look back into the stats on breast cancer (just to have an example) you see that women in Japan, during the late part of the nineteenth century, had only one case of breast cancer for every 65 women. The diet then and there was high in dried fish, seaweeds, vegetables and so on.

    Then you contrast those statistics with the women who moved from Japan to the USA in the late nineteen forties and fifties. Once they began to eat as American women do, their breast cancer statistics moved to the one cancer case for every ten women – much like the risk factor of one in four that Caucasian women in America face.

    So it’s not simply “genetics.” It is “genetics” plus environmental factors.

    But the industry spokespeople rarely comment on that. If they did, they would be indicting the very industries they are paid to protect. They weould be indicting the cleaning products, pesticides, make-up, diet aids, vaccines, air fresheners etc that modern advertising campaigns have made such a ubiquitous part of daily life for most of us. Who cares that there are benzenes and formaldehydes in these products? Breathe deep – surely our government would not allow these products to be sold if they were harmful. (Or so we are led to believe.)

    If you have never ever met any of the scientists who are corrupted, then you apparently do not attend any state meetings, FDA hearings, etc.


  5. The more things “improve” the worse things become. Those poeple who are reaching the ripeold age of one hundred and above didn’t have the “quality” heath care that we are having now, yet their heath seems to be better than what we have now. Maybe it is because of the eating habits, the sweet patato, yam, eddoes, casava and ALL these things grown without the chemicals that are today. The yard fowl was another and those rich eggs they produced, plus the cows with that rich milk at we used to scim off the fat at the top and make butter but we didn’t have the transportation like we have now. I remember my parents talking about the excited they had when their parents were going to take them to “town” when they are going, this journey was in some cases over twelve miles by foot. The boys then kept their sheep and ppigs, rabbits etc and had to find the food for them from cutting grass and some particular vines. Today we have “progressed” and the children sit alday infront the comp. and we drive just hundred yards up/ down the road and we’re always in some fastfood joint. Remember the old, “wah sweeten goat mout, bun he in he bam bam.”

  6. Scout, I know what you are talking about back in the days. Boys and girls had hobbies. Such as raising pigeons or a few chickens if you lived in the city; For the life of me I could never understand how anyone who had any common sense, would believe if you spray a crop with any pesticide. All you have to do is to wash the fruit, or vegetable off before eating it, and that will solve the problem. When you spray any crop, the pesticide is going to go into the soil, and if it rains which will make it even easier for it to get to the roots of the plants. Which then will be what feeds the fruit, or vegetable that you are about to eat. So the pesticide becomes a part of the fruit, or vegetable. I have been arguing this for years. But was always laughed at when I said it; I do my best to pay attention to what I eat. I refuse to eat any fast food. I still cook all the things that I have eaten as a boy when I was in Barbados. And my number one a smooth piece of twisted, if you know what that is? LOL!! Barbadians need to go back to the things that we know about, that has brought our parents to what we call a ripe old age. **NEVER FAST FOOD**. Children need to get out and play instead of sitting for hours with a game in they hands, or sitting in front of a computer;
    The more that’s being brought to us as improvement, is only creating less family time together. STOP jumping on things others are doing outside of Barbados. Barbadians has something that the others would LOVE to have. Better health than most; But you are loosing out on that when you turn away from what was good for everyone before us. Eat more natural foods, and less process foods. I have lived to be 71 years old now. And I thank GOD for that. I had PROSTATE CANCER. And got treated for that, and I am now 6 years CANCER FREE; It’s not only what we eat that’s causing the problems; But the pollution from cars and other things that are being burnt and the smoke is in the air; Barbados has more CANCER now than ever before, and this will only change when you change from what you are doing now health wise; Here where I live in the US is very high in CANCER because we are almost in the middle of all the pollution that’s in the air. And in case you didn’t know about the asbestos. Some of your cheaper brake pads are made from asbestos, so every time you put you foot on the brakes that brake dust is in the air that you are breathing;

    • @Charles

      Good to read of your successful bout with the Big C.

      What some people believe is that people who have had to confront life threatening situations are blessed with a terrific insight to many things.

      Keep fighting.

  7. Ancestry.com gives access to the slave population of Barbados from 1817 to 1834.

    Here’s what I found when I searched the datatbase for slaves who were between the ages of 105 and 115.

    Moll lived on Heywoods plantation and her age was given as 114. She was the oldest. George at 110 also lived on the same plantation. Both are listed as the property of George Williams.

    Margaret was 112 and is listed as the property of Clement Miller. No plantation given.

    Joy at 110 is listed as the property of Robert Haynes. No plantation is given but probably somewhere in St. John.

    Violet is listed as bing the property of Sir Stephen Anderson deceased and she lived on Byde Mill Plantation. She was 110.

    Jubah was 105 and lived on Groves Plantation. She is listed as being the property of William Hall.

  8. Sorry, that was in the year 1817.

    When I did the same search in 1834 I found no slaves between 105 and 115.

    The oldest slave I found was Nancy at 103. She was listed as the property of John Collymore deceased.

    Joan was 102 and lived at Wilcox plantation. She was listed as the property of John Rycroft Best.

    Philly was also 102 and lived in St. Lucy. She was listed as the property of William Grove Agard.

    Thomasin was 102 and lived in St. Michael. She is listed as the property of John Smith Crick.

  9. I’ll also check the burials at Westbury Cemetry over the period 1880 to 1920. I recall doing this before and finding the oldest Barbadian laid to rest in this period was 120 years old but I should check again.

  10. Thanks so very much David for your concern and comment on the **BIG C**. I have been doing volunteer work for PROSTATE & COLON CANCER now for over 11 years. We formed a group of men and named the group **WARRIORS AGAINST PROSTATE CANCER**. I feels good to give back to others; But the funny part of it all is when when the group was formed, I didn’t have PROSTATE CANCER then. I would like the men in Barbados to get tested every year starting at ages 45 and up. Early detection is the key to beating the CANCER; Since many has access to computers. You can now go online and get all the information on the different treatments for PROSTATE CANCER. But I strongly recommend that if the CANCER is still confine to the PROSTATE GLAD not to remove it; But get alternative treatment. I got what is called the seeds. And I am doing excellent in all areas. So I want to share this with all the brothers in Barbados. And Sisters stay on your man and make sure that he gets tested every year. I’m sure leaving it in the hand’s on the ladies they will make sure that the men do what has to be done; What you don’t know **WILL HURT YOU** when it comes to different CANCERS and other medical problems;

  11. Had Henrietta Lacks been a white woman she would have been celebrated in every text book. There would have been monuments to her and god-forbid she’d been a ‘jewess’ she would have been a direct descendent from Jehovah! And her family would have been stinkingly wealthy.

    Everyone is busy studying the Black Man & his Woman while we are just busy trying to catch up with them!


    Bonny Pepper I hope your God goes with you, that your surgery goes well and that your sight will be restored.

  12. Oldest person buried at Westbury in the period 1880 to 1920 was 120 years old. Several persons whose ages were given as over 110 years.

    The realy sad thing was that between 1880 and 1900 of the approximate 32,000 burial records I looked at, about half were children under the age of 1 year old.

    Over the age of 1 and under the age of 12 there were about 2500 burials and just over a thousand teens, almost certainly related to public health, water, lack of knowledge ……

    That’s one of the reasons I harp on water and when I see the politicians so brainlessly risk public health for a few dollars my blood boils.

    We have been there and done that and don’t want to go back because a few greedy unprincipled people want a few more dollars.

    I got the awareness from my father who only allowed us as children to drink boiled and filtered water.

    I now understand why.

    That was in the 50’s and 60’s.

  13. I just read somewhere, will have to search, about a cure for Prostrate Cancer out of Jamaica. Proven etc. Just wish I could remember where…anyone out there remembers reading about this?

    I do know that Mr. Whittaker of Glenleigh in St. Mary, Jamaica, has had a lot of success in treating cancers with organic cayenne pepper, turmeric, guinea hen weed and soursop….amazing reports. Mr. Whittaker has an organic farm in the hills where he produces noni in liquid form, virgin cold pressed coconut oil and many other wonderful products including soaps. I stock up whenever I go to Jah land. I do believe he supplies Chantel Selman at Pelican Village (she also does some amazing holistic work). Pimento Oil (again organic) is being used in jamaica by a doctor to successfully deal with arthritis. When I travel around the islands and see some of the wonderful products that include medicines and food, it drives me insane that our powers that be did not consider the movement of food in Caricom before the movement of people. Told this to a roomful of Minister of Tourism in New York at CTO Awards – also spoke about the importance of health & wellness with food, more local, more organic etc in order to attract “foodie” visitors who are the ones that really spend money….and I asked the question “why would any foodie want to come here to eat the same trash and fast foods as they can get in their own home countries…and and and….but it seems to have gone on deaf ears.
    @Charles…respect for your work….and praise be that you are alive and well today….and yes! we are what we eat and we just have to be more aware and make others more aware…spread the word whatever way we can.

    The other day a friend came to visit whilst I was by the seaside for a four-day rest, her son came with her and he immediately pulled out one of those computer games. Watch me! “Hello?? Not allowed here, I came to get away from all computers and machinery of any kind, put that down right now and go outside, take a walk on the reef, see what you can find, have a swim, go play…but leave that little foolishness in your bag.” His mother was taken aback that I was so direct but agreed with me…and off he went whilst we got on with….a lovely massage that was most required – something that many of us do not realize how beneficial this is by the way!! My children never had any of that ‘crap’…they played outside with other children, on occasion TV was allowed after the day had passed, and very occasionally a treat at Chefette…very occasionally! My last daughter lived in the sea from the time she could walk (was in there from one month old with me!). I hardly see children playing outside anymore…they are all indoors, their little fingers busy pressing buttons…and when you pass Chefette or KFC that is where you see them stuffing their faces with nonsense….right next to their parents who are also stuffing away…it is all so sad.

    But I am a terrorist when it comes to all of this, and will make my mark by trying to spread the word as best as I can…and intend to put a section on health in my new book, Barbados Bu’n-Bu’n (there is no Chefette or KFC in there and will not be either!)….When this book is over, it is my intention to also to do much more in terms of spreading the word. Barbados is a small island of very educated people and we should be able to get the message out there much faster…believe you me when I tell you that some people are just not aware of the dangers of certain things, but when you explain it to them, particularly when you say that their children will be damaged they pay attention and change their attitudes and lifestyle. (i.e. I saw a woman burning plastic bottles….jumped out the car and told her what she was doing in very detailed terms, she was horrified and I know she will never do that again! and in Jamaica I found a guy firing up his jerk with plastic bottles….again my castigation with the promise of putting it in the newspapers stopped him short – both these people told me they did not know!!) …we just have to march on with the commitment….

    I would love to live as long as Mr.Sisnett, what joy it must be to have such a vast knowledge of so many years, to have seen so much, to be so loved. I love life and want it forever not just for now. Hopefully what I have eaten, breathed etc in the past has not too much damage and by changing I am able to ensure that I have a good healthy life…! Cheers!

  14. I have a feeling longevity is a bit more than mere genetics and food.

    There is also the will to live, a product of happiness and a sense of well being/health.

    James Sisnett is also a survivor!!

    In 1900 when he was born, Barbadian parents were burying their babies at Westbury Cemetery at a rate of over 800 per year.

    His parents got him through that precarious first year of life when so many of his contemporaries died.

    Perhaps there are things they did which other parents might not have done which he learned and followed during his life.

    For better or worse, it is often the simple things when done habitually make a huge difference to our health.

    Getting by with little often inculcates a habit of leaving something back for the next meal and prevents overeating.

  15. I think that we should have a national holiday and a big party when Mr. Sissnett become the oldest man in the world, and another one when he becomes the oldest person in the world as he very likely will.

    We have holidays for much closer issues don’t we.

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