What Your Skin Says About How Long You’ll Live

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Here’s even more reason to worry about wrinkles — women with fewer age lines tend to have lower blood pressure, a lower risk of heart disease and stroke and a greater chance of outliving their more wrinkled friends.

In a new study published in the Journals of Gerontology, researchers from Unilever–a food, home, and personal care product supplier–and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands collaborated to untangle the relationship between how old people looked and their risk of heart disease, to see if a person’s perceived age had an effect on the health of their heart.

The scientists studied 260 women whom they separated into two groups based on high and low risk of heart disease. They then assessed the youthfulness of the women’s appearance by analyzing their facial appearance and evaluating the wrinkles on their upper inner arm, which, unlike the face, is least likely to show signs of premature aging from the sun.

For the first time, the team found a relationship between appearance and blood pressures; the women who looked more youthful also had lower blood pressure and heart disease risk. But was it their biology that was helping them to look younger and to avoid heart disease, or were they more likely to rely on cosmetics or procedures, and therefore be more likely to also afford the latest drugs and therapies for keeping their hearts healthy? To solidify the connection, the researchers then studied a group of men and women from families with long lived members. Again, they found that compared to a control group of people who lived to average life expectancy, these men and women were more youthful looking and had fewer wrinkles.

So what’s their secret? The scientists hope that by studying the aging of these individuals, they can identify whatever is contributing to their youthful skin, and hopefully understand how that is linked to their better heart health and longevity as well.