How old do people think you are? Are you 60 going on 25? Then you are well on your way to a life of longevity. Perceived age is a term often used by physicians to recognize a patient’s level of health, in which an individual may look younger or older than his or her chronological age. Is there really an internal fountain of youth that radiates through your appearance?
Researchers from the University of Denmark decided to put this idea to the test. The study recruited 1,826 Danish twins (70 years and older) to take physical and cognitive tests. The twins also had their faces photographed. Next, volunteers looked at the photos and determined the subjects’ age based on their appearance. After a seven-year follow up, researchers found that longevity was significantly related to perceived age, as it was more likely that the older-looking twin died first. Additionally, younger-looking individuals had greater physical and mental capacities.
Researchers concluded common genetic factors associated with a younger appearance might also explain the findings. They determined perceived age is a strong indication of aging and longevity.
Christensen K, Thinggaard M, McGue M, Rexbye H, et al. Perceived age as clinically useful biomarker of ageing: cohort study. BMJ. 2009 Dec 10;339:b5262.