Looking Young May Help You Live Longer
Youthful Appearance Linked to Longer Life, Study Finds
Dec. 14, 2009 -- If you look young for your age, chances are you’ll live
longer than if you’re haggard and appear worn out, new research indicates.
A team of researchers led by Kaare Christensen, DMSc, from the University of
Southern Demark studied photographs and data on 1,826 Danish twins aged 70 or older who’d undergone physical and
The study is published in the Christmas issue of bmj.com.
The facial photographs of the twins were evaluated by 20 female geriatric
nurses aged 25-46, 10 male student teachers aged 22-37, and 11 women aged
The assessors rated the perceived age by looking at pictures of the
subjects’ faces. They didn’t know the age range of the twins, and each twin had
his or her age assessed on different days.
Death records were used to track the survival of the twins over a seven-year
The researchers found that perceived age was significantly associated with
survival and life span, even after adjusting for chronological age, sex, and
the environment in which each of the twins grew up.
Perceived age, the researchers say, adjusted for chronological age and sex,
also correlated with physical and cognitive functioning, as well as length of
leukocyte telomeres - chromosome tips on DNA of people's white blood cells.
Shorter telomere length is associated with a “host of diseases related to
aging and lifestyle factors and has been shown to be associated with
mortality,” the researchers write.
The bigger the difference in perceived age within a twin pair, the more
likely it was that the twin who looked older died first, the authors say.
The sex, age, and professional background of the assessors made no
difference in any of the results.
Basing perceived age on facial photographs is thought to be a robust
biomarker of aging that predicts survival in people 70 and over and correlates
with important functional and molecular age-related characteristics, the
The data came from the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins, which was
begun in 1995, with assessments every two years up to 2005.