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Science: 

3D facial scans reveal true physical age

Could you guess her age? Nope, we'd defer to a machine too.

Could you guess her age? Nope, we’d defer to a machine too.

When someone asks you to guess their age, it’s probably best to take your least insulting guesstimate, and then knock off five years. Computers, of course, have no such tact, which might explain the news that a 3D facial scan has proved pretty efficient at judging human’s ‘physiological age’ than doctors.

Actual age is pretty easy to measure, assuming you know a person’s date of birth and can do a little math or have a calculator to hand, but this study is more interested in the physiological age. It’s possible you may really only be as young as you feel – provided you don’t feel more than six or so years younger than your current age. With a mean age of 28 at Go Explore, we’re quite comfortable with this.

The study involved the 3dMDface System – a special camera that conducted 3d facial scans of 332 Chinese participants, ranging in age from 17 to 77. By assessing wrinkles and other signs of aging, the machine was able to generate a pattern of markers which could prove vital in ensuring patients get age appropriate medicines in future. For example, some older cancer patients are sometimes given lower doses of chemotherapy, but if this scan proves they have the physique of someone younger, they may be considered healthy enough to take a potentially life-saving stronger dose.

The research also provided some interesting insight into the effects of everyday aging. “The mouth grows longer, the nose gets wider, the forehead narrows, and the distances between the mouth and nose increases,” explains Live Science.

As well as a full 3d facial scan, researchers took a blood sample from participants, and discovered that some biological markers in people’s blood correlate pretty closely with how old they look. Women with ‘older looking’ faces tend to have higher levels of bad cholesterol, while men low in albumin suffered the same effect.

Perhaps the most interesting part of what’s a pretty all-round fascinating study is the discovery of how far our physical appearance can be from our actual age. Researchers found that those under the age of 40 could appear six years older or younger than their actual age, but after 40 the number could increase massively either way.

So you really could be as young as you feel… within reason.

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