It is said that you are as old as you feel but how old do others perceive you? It’s sort of like carnival barkers who boast how they can guess one’s age. The thought of being younger is definitely a plus. A new study reports the first genetic variants to influence how old those who carry a “youth” gene are perceived by others.
Genetics, good or bad, determine how long we live and how gracefully we age. It’s no surprise that facial wrinkling was strongly related to perceived advanced age. Women tended to look slightly older than men, who appeared slightly younger than their respective chronological age.
Carrying the gene variant is a disadvantage for women because studies have shown that the human male, subconsciously, seeks youth in partners more strongly than women. This is evolutionary and based on the ability to reproduce.
In the recent study, groups of four observers estimated the facial age and percentage of facial skin covered by wrinkles in more than 2,600 mainly white Dutch participants in their mid-60’s. On average, about 1.3% of facial skin had wrinkles.
After investigating the genomes of the participants, researchers discovered that changes in the MC1R gene were associated with perceptions of facial age.
The study states,
The MC1R gene encodes the melanocortin receptor, which is a key regulator of melanogenesis, and controls the ratio of Pheomelanin to eumelanin synthesis. However, multiple studies have shown loss-of-fuction MC1R variants significantly associate with age spots, actinic keratosis and various types of skin cancers in a skin-color –independent manner, and in the present study, we showed that MC1R variants associated with perceived age after skin color and sun exposure adjustments.
In other words, the MC1R gene carries information for a receptor, which helps synthesis melanin, which blocks UV light and prevents inflammation and if it is defective causes premature aging and even skin cancer.
Those who inherited two defective MC1R variants, including those with pale skin and red hair, were rated as being two years older than those without the variants. Those who inherited one “good” gene and one “bad” gene were perceived as being one year older.
Thus, you have only your parents to thank or blame for your appearance once you reach a “certain age.”