December 14, 2009

UK: Are you a baby face? Then you'll live to a ripe old age

. LONDON, England / Daily Mail / Science & Technology/ December 14, 2009 By Jenny Hope People who look young for their age are already the envy of their peers. But those holding back the years haven't just been blessed in the looks department. Scientists have shown that looking younger than you are also means you will enjoy a longer life. Not only do the wrinkles remain at bay, but the Grim Reaper takes longer to call, according to researchers. Fresh faced: Cliff Richard has managed to hold on to his youthful appearance They suggest patients could give their GPs a photo of themselves for their medical records as this would be as good a guide to their longevity as complicated testing. Professor Kaare Christensen, from the University of Southern Denmark, set out to test the belief that a person's perceived age gives a general indication of his health. His team looked at twins to see whether perceived age - basically how old others think you are - is linked with survival, as well as important age-related traits such as physical functioning and brainpower. The researchers also examined evidence relating to chromosomes and DNA and their effect on longevity. But in the end, it seems, the best method of research was simply a long hard look in the mirror. Scientists have shown that looking younger than you are also means you will enjoy a longer life. Source: HWT Image Library / Herald Sun More...How a healthy human heart follows same beauty ratio as George Clooney 'It's probably easy to explain because people who've had a tougher life are more likely to die early - and their life is reflected in their face,' Professor Christensen said. The research started back in spring 2001, when 1,826 Danish twins aged 70 years and over underwent physical and cognitive tests and had their faces photographed. Three groups of assessors rated the perceived age of the twins from the photographs. The assessors did not know the age range of the twins, and each twin of a pair had their age assessed on different days. Death records were then used to track the survival of the twins over a seven-year period, say findings published on the British Medical Journal website bmj.com. Perceived age was significantly associated with survival, even after adjusting for chronological age, sex, and the environment in which each pair of twins grew up. The bigger the difference in perceived age within a twin pair, the more likely it was that the olderlooking twin died first. Professor Christensen also investigated whether longevity was linked to the length of telomeres, which are tiny 'caps' on the ends of chromosomes that protect the strands of DNA from inflammation and other ageing processes. Longer telomeres are a sign of being biologically younger and also of being healthier. He dismissed the telomere tests as complicated and only helping establish a weak link with longevity. Far better, he said, to simply look at a person's face. And what if that face has a been tweaked a little by the cosmetic surgeon? Professor Christensen said such surgery was uncommon in the part of Denmark where the study was carried out, so was not a major factor. [rc] © 2009 Associated Newspapers Ltd