Twins Study Shows the Effects of Lifestyle on Aging

Twins Study Shows how Sun Exposure, Smoking & Weight affect the appearance of age.

A study this year at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University used a unique method to show the effects of lifestyle choices on aging. Researchers photographed and interviewed 186 pairs of twins during the 2006 and 2007 Twins Festival in Twinsburg, OH and compared these data to find clues into how our daily choices affect the way we age.

In the above example, researchers recorded an over-11-year gap in perceived age difference between 61-year-old twin sisters Jeanne (left) and Susan (right). “We don’t have the same taste in men and weather,” says Jeanne who lives in Ohio and has aimed for “as little sun exposure as possible” in contrast with her sun worshiping Floridian counterpart. In addition to her tanning habit, Susan also smoked a pack-and-a-half per day for 16 years during her 20s and 30s.

The evidence of aging is far stronger in twin sister Susan’s hyperpigmentation (sun damage and age spots) and the greater appearance of fine lines and wrinkles under the eyes and around the mouth.


In addition to sun exposure and smoking, another major factor in the appearance of age in the twins was weight. In women below 40, lower weight generally translates to a more youthful appearance.  However, in women over 40, more weight contributes to a younger look by filling in fine lines, wrinkles and skin sagging. In the case of the above 46-year-old twins, Laurie (left) weighs 38 pounds less than her sister Lisa (right) which contributes to her more pronounced wrinkles and sagging in the eye area.

Other factors that could contribute to aging include birth control pills (younger), antidepressants (older) and stress (older). []

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