December 01, 2009

Why Some Women Look Young for Their Age (Gunn et al. 2009)

On the left facial composites of younger/older (left/right) monozygotic/dizygotic twins (top/bottom).

PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008021

Why Some Women Look Young for Their Age

David A. Gunn et al.

Abstract

The desire of many to look young for their age has led to the establishment of a large cosmetics industry. However, the features of appearance that primarily determine how old women look for their age and whether genetic or environmental factors predominately influence such features are largely unknown. We studied the facial appearance of 102 pairs of female Danish twins aged 59 to 81 as well as 162 British females aged 45 to 75. Skin wrinkling, hair graying and lip height were significantly and independently associated with how old the women looked for their age. The appearance of facial sun-damage was also found to be significantly correlated to how old women look for their age and was primarily due to its commonality with the appearance of skin wrinkles. There was also considerable variation in the perceived age data that was unaccounted for. Composite facial images created from women who looked young or old for their age indicated that the structure of subcutaneous tissue was partly responsible. Heritability analyses of the appearance features revealed that perceived age, pigmented age spots, skin wrinkles and the appearance of sun-damage were influenced more or less equally by genetic and environmental factors. Hair graying, recession of hair from the forehead and lip height were influenced mainly by genetic factors whereas environmental factors influenced hair thinning. These findings indicate that women who look young for their age have large lips, avoid sun-exposure and possess genetic factors that protect against the development of gray hair and skin wrinkles. The findings also demonstrate that perceived age is a better biomarker of skin, hair and facial aging than chronological age.

Link

2 comments:

Mark said...

At the risk of derailing this topic, it reminds me of something I've always wondered about: why do so many gay men look young for their age?

I'm 30 and I pass for 25. I've known gay men in their forties who can pass for 30. This isn't an isolated incident. Most gay men I've known are hard to place, age-wise, much more so than straight men. Gay men usually chalk it up to taking better physical care of themselves (how many straight men use face creams?) and not being saddled with children, but I wonder if it doesn't tie in somehow to your "beautiful wives/gay sons" theory.

eurologist said...

The findings also demonstrate that perceived age is a better biomarker of skin, hair and facial aging than chronological age

In other words, humans can actually see wrinkles, detect thin skin, can distinguish gray from other colors, and can tell the difference between full hair and little hair. I never would have thought ...