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Young-looking people live longer

Everyone at the University Post head quarters is staring at each other, judging - in some cases even placing bets. A recent Danish study indicates that people who look young for their age live longer

George Nelson, aka ‘Baby Face’, might have lived to be a very old man had he not been shot. A new study, led by Professor Kaare Christensen of the University of Southern Denmark, indicates that people who look young for their age live to be older than people who do not.

The scientists studied 387 pairs of twins, aged 70 and up.

Geriatric nurses, older women and young male student teachers were presented with mug shots of the twins, and asked to guess their age. Each group was picked for their supposed varying level of skill in assessing the age of the subjects.

Backed up by telomers

The subsequent seven-year follow-up -taking actual age, gender and social conditions into account- suggested that the younger-looking twin would usually outlive their older-looking sibling.

A direct correlation between the twins’ perceived age and their leococyte telomere length was also observed. Leococyte telomeres are currently considered the most capable molecular biomarkers of ageing, and a short telomere is thought to make someone age faster and be more prone to disease.

Not a question of age

The study found that »perceived age was influenced negatively by exposure to sun, smoking, and low body mass index (BMI) and positively by high social status, low depression score, and being married,«. The strengths of these associations varied depending on the gender of the subject.

The results were not affected by the age, gender, and professional background of the subject.

The study can be read, in full, on the online home of the BMJ (British Medical Journal), where it was published on Sunday 13 December.