Do people who look younger live longer? According to a recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology, women who have fewer wrinkles may well live to an older age.
The study found that women with a younger looking facial appearance had lower blood pressure, which can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.
Researchers from Unilever, a company that produces food and personal care products, and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, set out to test whether a person’s perceived age has an effect on the health of their heart.
They examined 260 women divided into two groups based on high or low risk of cardiovascular disease and compared them to a group of similarly aged control participants with no reported disease history.
The appearance of the women’s skin was evaluated by comparing wrinkles on the skin of their inner arm, an area less affected by sun exposure, to the quality of the skin on their faces.
The women who had the lowest blood pressure and cardiac risk were found to appear over two years younger than those in the other group, reported a Unilever press release.
Dr. David Gunn, Unilever Senior Scientist, said in the press release, “We identified that blood pressure was driving the link between cardiovascular disease risk and perceived age. It is the first time a link between low blood pressure and youthful looks has been proven.”
To confirm that these findings were not just due to cosmetic or skin product use, a second part of the study measured the facial skin appearance of men from long-lived families to a similar aged control group. The long-lived males looked younger than the control males.
The researchers also evaluated the skin of the upper arms of a group of women and men from long-lived families and they too had less skin wrinkling on their upper arms compared to a control group of the same age.
Dr. Gunn went on to say, “Our initial findings suggest that families who age healthily are also endowed with slower skin ageing and, for males, a more youthful face. The next stage is to understand what is happening inside the skin of these youthful individuals to find out more about their ageing secrets.”
Dr. Diana Van-Heemst from Leiden University Medical Center indicated that she hoped these results would inspire people to lead a healthier lifestyle since doing so appears to affect their physical appearance. She also hoped people would take more precautions by getting their blood pressures checked more frequently.
Further research will be needed to better understand and utilize this information about how appearance is related to aging. Unilever hopes to use this knowledge to develop personal care and nutritional products in the future.
Link between low blood pressure and youthful appearance in women discovered. Unilever.com. Web Dec. 1, 2013.
Youthful Skin Says A Lot About Your Health: Less Wrinkles Linked To Lower Blood Pressure, Longevity. Medical Daily.com. Web Dec. 1, 2013.
What Your Skin Says About How Long You’ll Live. Time Health and Family. Web Dec. 1, 2013.
Gunn DA, et al. Facial appearance reflects human familial longevity and cardiovascular disease risk in healthy individuals. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013 Feb;68(2):145-52. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gls154. Epub 2012 Aug 9. Abstract:
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith