Aging in the Face and Longevity
Imagine this – an insurance underwriter visits you to take your blood pressure and weight but then takes a snap of your face as well. That picture, showing all the aging in the face; your saggy skin, mottled spots and wrinkles. Imagine this is then entered in a computer which immediately calculates how long you will live.
The Science of Aging in the Face
The technology of facial recognition has been in use to hunt criminals and to guess the features of a missing child as an adult. But now, this technology may become more personal soon. A system is being designed by a bunch of scientists that will help in analyzing the prospects of an individual on the basis of how the individual’s face has matured.
This idea was set forth by a biodemographer of University of Illinois in Chicago, Jay Olshansky. According to him, it is a known fact in the aging field that certain individuals tend to grow old or senesce faster while for some the aging process is relatively slow. The children of those who age slower live a longer life as compared to other individuals.
Even though this research on facial recognition technology is in initial stages, it has managed to spark interest in insurance company executives. They view it as an excellent means to determine premiums. Olshansky also stated that this technology would also benefit individuals as it can encourage them in changing their lifestyles to healthier ones before it is too late.
In this technology, a computer will scan a picture of the face to determine the aging signs. Keeping in consideration the factors that has an impact on longevity like individual’s smoking history, education level, gender and race, the system will evaluate all parts of the jowl, mouth, brow, eyes and cheeks. The computer will examine these sections for shading variations that indicates drooping, dark spots, lines or any other aging signs or changes that will be then compared to other individuals of the same background and age to determine their future appearance.
The aging population in United States is growing day by day; research in this regard, especially to determine the ways of increasing healthy years, is a hot topic for private and public entities.
Recently the National Institutes of Health introduced an exceptional collaborative project across 20 of its 27 specialized institutions for addressing longevity and aging. Richard Hodes, director of National Institute on Aging, stated that their organization is willing to work with other emerging ventures on this topic.
The social and economic implications could be overwhelming. According to longevity experts, one day it will become common to live to a 100 years. Apart from this the quality of life during an individual’s final years could improve drastically which will also reduce the burdens that the aging population imposes.
According to Olshansky, co-author of Health Affairs’ paper as well as a research associate at Centre on Aging in the University of Chicago, an increase in life expectancy by 2.2 years by slowing the process of aging might help in saving about $7.1 trillion in entitlement and disability programs in over 50 years.
Focusing more on the age process instead of age related diseases, according to longevity experts, is the main key to extend a healthy life. They state that merely a slight progress in slowing the process of aging, in particular aging in the face, will be groundbreaking as compared to major progresses in tackling merely one disease.
As a matter of fact, experts propose that existing drugs being used for age related problems might even work as they are already slowing it overall.
Even though, it is unclear whether people might live 150 years one day, as a few have predicted, experts are quite optimistic that health span or number of healthy years could be increased significantly and age-related diseases could be reduced.
It will be interesting to keep note of during the aging process how chronic stress plays into our health and longevity. When chronic stress is present, it affects the NEM, neuroendocrine metabolic stress response, which has system-wide affects on our body from detoxification, and metabolism to hormone levels and heart function. Proper detoxification and cleansing of the body rids the body of toxins that speed the aging process. A slow metabolism also creates issues with aging in the face and body, and fitness. It is therefore important to maintain a wholesome diet and healthy lifestyle while aging to manage the NEM Stress Response and other systems in the body.
Source: Washington Post July 2014