TIME medicine

How Traumatic Life Events During Childhood Affect Diabetes

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JFCreative—Getty Images

Researchers say that traumatic life events can play a role in raising risk of type 1 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes tends to get more attention than type 1, mainly because the risk factors for type 2—obesity, for instance—are thought to be more in our control. Type 1 is believed to be primarily a genetic disease, triggered by an unfortunate DNA configuration that signals the body’s immune system to destroy insulin-producing beta cells.

Now, in a report published in the journal Diabetologia, Dr. Johnny Ludvigsson, a pediatrician from Linkoping University in Sweden, and his colleagues say that life events, including traumatic experiences such as the death of a family member or a serious accident, can triple the risk that young children have of developing the disease.

The researchers studied 10,495 families with children born between 1997 and 1999 and asked them to participate in at least one of four follow-up sessions when the children were between two and 14 years old. The parents filled out questionnaires about whether the children had experienced anything that might be considered a serious life event, including things like the death of a family member, a new sibling, divorce or a move. Parents were also asked about their own stress and whether they felt they had social support.

Once the scientists adjusted for factors that also contribute to type 1 diabetes, such as BMI, mother’s age and a history of diabetes in the family, children who experienced deaths and accidents in their early years showed a three-fold higher risk of developing diabetes than those who didn’t live through these events.

“People may be worried and have feelings of guilt that not only did their child get diabetes, but that in a way they contribute to it,” says Ludvigsson of the results. But parents should take some solace in the fact that after he adjusted for other factors that can contribute to type 1 diabetes, including BMI, mother’s age at child’s birth, and family history of diabetes, events such as divorce, new siblings and other changes in the family structure weren’t as strongly associated with an increased risk for the disease.

What may be happening is that some children may have a genetic predisposition to developing type 1 diabetes, but these genetic triggers aren’t “activated” unless they experience some extreme stress or trauma, such as the death of a loved one. Biologically, scientists believe that high stress situations may lead to a boost in the hormone cortisol, and that pushes the beta cells that produce insulin to work harder and release other potentially toxic factors as well. The added influx of insulin may be viewed by the immune system as abnormal and undesirable, which may prompt them to start attacking the beta cells and destroying them.

“This study does not say that you should never divorce,” says Ludvigsson. “But stress from life events can be one factor that influences the immune balance, just like many other factors do, like sleep, physical activity and so on.” Which highlights the need to address traumatic experiences and children’s reactions to them. Supporting families that go through difficult times, whether caused by marital conflicts or financial worries, could also be an important way to keep young children even healthier and to avoid certain chronic diseases. “If society could be a bit supportive, we could perhaps save some families and relationships, and that would be good for the children,” says Ludvigsson.

TIME medicine

Can Plastic Surgery Make You More Likeable? A Close Look at a New Study

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Robert Daly—Getty Images/OJO Images RF

Sure, getting facial plastic surgery can make you look younger, but can it change your personality? Or at least what other people think of your personality?

Putting aside reconstructive surgery, facial plastic surgery is all about vanity. Which, let’s face it, means looking younger and more symmetrical. But erasing those signs of experience and maturity also changes the way other people see you. Like it or not, and socially acceptable or not, we make snap judgments about people based on purely superficial traits all the time. Furrowed brow? You might be interpreted as mean or anti-social. Heavy, hooded eyes? Clearly untrustworthy. While it seems ridiculous now, at one time in our evolutionary history, being able to make such determinations might have been life-saving: Who’s out to do us harm? Who is there to help?

MORE: From Kim’s Butt to Angelina’s Lips: The Plastic Surgery Procedures Women Want

In modern times, the sad truth is we still make snap judgments about certain facial features and the way we read some faces—as aggressive or unlikeable, say—tends to be connected with saggy skin, heavy chins and more crepe-like skin. That’s what plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Reilly from Georgetown University and his colleagues found in a report published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

In his study, he asked people to rate either before or after photos of women who had had cosmetic procedures. Not only did he ask them to evaluate how attractive and how feminine she was, he also had people make guesses about her personality based on the photos. Why the personality traits? Previous studies have shown that physical features have a strong correlation to certain personality types, and Reilly says he wanted to understand exactly how the changes he made as a plastic surgeon were affecting his patients. “If I’m embarking on this career, and if I’m doing this type of surgery, I want to know what I’m doing to patients,” he says. Laudable, certainly, but what are the raters’ responses really telling us? The raters never saw the before and after pictures of the same person, which Reilly says he did in order to reduce any potential bias.

Reilly found that people consistently rated the post-op photos as higher on things like social skills, likeability, femininity and overall attractiveness. Not a surprise, given that cosmetic procedures are supposed to improve attractiveness. But likeability? Social skills? Not to mention trustworthiness and risk-seeking?

MORE: Here Are the Most Popular Plastic Surgery Procedures In Three Charts

For one, asking people to rate faces on these characteristics is a bit artificial to begin with. The personality traits people were asked to assess have biased terms—like “aggressiveness,” says Dr. Sam Lam, a facial plastic surgeon practicing in Dallas, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. Raters might be saying that faces have certain traits only because they’re forced to make a choice when they might not if they weren’t in a study setting.

The results also reinforce the fact that — surprise!— our society has a bias against aging. Since the post-op, and presumably younger-looking, images of the same women seemed to score higher on things like social skills and likeability than their pre-op pictures, that strongly suggests that aging-related features are associated with less-than-desirable personality traits like anti-social behavior. “Aging reverses positive dynamic expressions like smiling,” says Reilly, noting that when we smile, we bring our cheeks up and tighten certain facial muscles. “When we age, our faces look like the opposite of a smile.”

MORE: Plastic Surgery Doesn’t Work — but Neither Does Our Standard of Beauty

Yet couldn’t aging also be seen in exactly the opposite light, as a factor that makes someone more adept and experienced at social interactions and therefore more likeable than a younger person who is more awkward and uncomfortable navigating among strangers?

A previous study from 2013 of before and after plastic surgery ratings didn’t find the same improvement in attractiveness that the current one did. In that study, people looking at photos of patients pre- and post-op didn’t think the procedures made patients any more attractive, and only seemed to make them look about three years younger.

Which only goes to show that we still have a long way to go before we can figure out exactly what we’re doing to ourselves when we go under the knife for cosmetic procedures. We’re changing our outward appearance, yes, but how that affects our inner selves and how others perceive us isn’t — and likely won’t ever — be entirely clear.

TIME medicine

10 Ways to Soothe a Sore Throat

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Getty Images

Your newest excuse to eat marshmallows

A sore throat can be the first sign of a cold, a side effect of strained vocal cords, or an indication of something more serious (like strep throat).

Regardless of the cause, your immediate concern when soreness strikes is how to get relief, fast. You may be tempted to run to your doctor, but some of the best treatments are home remedies and over-the-counter meds, says Jeffrey Linder, M.D., an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston.

Here are 10 to try the next time you’re feeling scratchy, hoarse, or just plain sick.

Anti-inflammatories

One of the most effective treatments for sore throat is probably already in your medicine cabinet: an over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Advil or Aleve.

“These medicines are combination pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, so they’ll make you feel better and they’ll also reduce some of the swelling associated with a sore throat,” Dr. Linder says. “If you have a fever that’s also contributing to your symptoms, they can help reduce that as well.”

Saltwater gargle

Several studies have found that gargling several times a day with warm salt water can reduce swelling in the throat and loosen mucus, helping to flush out irritants or bacteria.

Doctors generally recommend dissolving half a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water. If the salty taste is too unpleasant for you, try adding a small amount of honey to sweeten the mixture slightly. (Just remember to spit the water out after gargling, rather than swallowing!)

Lozenges and sprays

Sucking on cough drops stimulates saliva production, which can help keep your throat moist. But many varieties are no more effective than hard candies, Dr. Linder says. For an added benefit, choose brands with a cooling or numbing ingredient, like menthol or eucalyptus.

Over-the-counter sprays like Chloraseptic produce an effect similar to cooling lozenges. They won’t cure your sore throat or help you fight off the underlying cold, but they may help dull the pain temporarily. Chloraseptic’s active ingredient, phenol, is a local antiseptic that also has antibacterial properties, Dr. Linder says.

Cough syrup

Even if you don’t have a cough (yet), over-the-counter cough syrups can help ease soreness. Like drops and sprays, they coat the throat and provide temporary pain relief.

If you’re headed to work, be sure to choose a non-drowsy formula. But if you’re having trouble sleeping due to a sore throat, a nighttime formula like NyQuil (which contains a pain reliever and an antihistamine) or Robitussin AC (guaifenesin and codeine) can relieve pain and help you get some shuteye.

Fluids

“Staying hydrated is very important, especially when you’re sick and your throat is irritated or inflamed,” Dr. Linder says. “You should be drinking enough fluid so that your urine is light yellow or clear. This keeps your mucous membranes moist and better able to combat bacteria and irritants like allergens, and makes your body better able to fight back against other cold symptoms.”

What you drink is up to you, Linder adds. Water always works (ice cubes, too!), but you can also change it up with something slightly sugary, like a watered-down fruit juice, or something salty, like chicken broth.

Tea

Tired of drinking water? A warm cup of herbal tea can offer immediate, soothing relief for a sore throat. What’s more, non-herbal teas—whether they’re made with black, green, or white leaves—contain antioxidants that are thought to strengthen immunity and ward off infection.

For an extra boost, add a teaspoon of honey. It’ll help the “medicine” go down, and it has antibacterial properties that may help you heal faster.

Chicken soup

An age-old home remedy for colds, chicken soup can help soothe a sore throat, as well. “The sodium in the broth may actually have anti-inflammatory properties, and it can feel good going down,” Dr. Linder says.

Soup has an added benefit when you’re sick: Eating can be painful and difficult with a swollen or very sore throat, so sipping some liquid nourishment will ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need to fight off your infection.

Marshmallows

Although there’s no hard evidence that it works, sap from the marshmallow plant has been used for hundreds of years—usually in tea form—to treat coughs, colds, and sore throats. And while real marshmallow bears little relation to the puffy campfire treats that took its name, both may have sore throat-fighting properties.

According to anecdotal reports, modern-day marshmallows can help ease sore throat pain, possibly because the gelatin coats and soothes. “It’s not the wackiest thing in the world,” Dr. Linder says. “If your throat is really swollen and it really hurts to swallow anything, I can see how something slippery and sweet like marshmallows might provide some relief.”

Rest

It may not be the quickest solution, but getting some rest is probably the best thing you can do to battle the infection that caused your sore throat in the first place, Dr. Linder says.

“The vast majority of sore throats are caused by cold viruses, and we know that there’s very little we can do to cure a cold once we’ve got it,” he says. “Making sure your body is well rested will at least help it fight off the virus so you can get better sooner.”

Antibiotics

Every once and a while—about 10% of the time in adults—a sore throat will be caused by a bacterial infection such as Streptococcus pyogenes. If, and only if, you test positive for strep throat or another bacterial infection, your doctor should prescribe an antibiotic. (Taking antibiotics for a sore throat caused by a virus will not be effective.)

Always take the full course of medicine, even if you feel better after a few days.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME medicine

Could An Allergy Drug Treat Hepatitis C?

A drug that's been around for decades may help find a new solution for an expensive chronic disease

An over-the-counter drug commonly used to treat allergies may one day also contribute to the treatment of hepatitis C, according to new research in mice published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

For the last 10 years, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Hiroshima University have been searching for new, better drugs to treat hepatitis C, an infectious disease that attacks the liver. By screening thousands of drug compounds in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration library—many of which are already approved and on the market—the researchers have determined that a class of antihistamines may be repurposed to treat hepatitis C. The drug chlorcyclizine HCI (CCZ)—a drug that’s been approved since the 1940s—was shown to be the most promising inhibitor of the virus, the new research found.

“Current drugs against hepatitis C, although they are effective, are expensive, have side effects, and are associated with drug resistance,” says study author Dr. T. Jake Liang, a senior investigator of liver disease at NIH. “There’s definitely unmet needs in the current regime of treatment.”

Promising drugs to treat hepatitis C have made it to market in the last few years, but at a hefty price. The biotech company Gilead Sciences has two hepatitis C drugs with high price tags: one drug, Harvoni, costs $95,500 for 12 weeks, and the other, Sovaldi, costs $84,000. That comes out to $1,000 per pill. Still, many patients with hepatitis C prefer oral drugs over the daily injections that were previously required.

MORE: Why Hepatitis C Drugs May Soon Get Far Less Expensive

The researchers of the new study report that CCZ can specifically target hepatitis C, and prevented infection in mice by blocking hepatitis C from entering liver cells. That’s a different mechanism from the current drugs, which block replication of the virus once it gets into the cells. “This is certainly new compared to the existing drugs,” says Liang. “I think that’s the exciting part of our research: We are finding a new class of drugs that are active against hepatitis C.”

The drug showed promising results when tested on a population of mice who were infected with the virus. The researchers discovered that when the mice were given the drug on a daily basis, there was a significant decline in their viral levels. “That’s typically what we look for when we test any drugs,” says Liang.

The findings are still preliminary, and there are several steps that need to be taken before there’s any clinical use available for people. The scientists still do not know if the drug has the same effect in humans, how exactly it works and what form the treatment should take. “We want to caution people that these drugs have not been tested in people yet,” says Liang. “They should not run out and take this medicine to treat hepatitis C.”

Liang says his team is working on understanding how CCZ and antihistamines in general could contribute to the treatment of hepatitis C. They will be initiating a small proof of concept trial in humans which will look at the effect of short term CCZ dosing on the infection. Liang says that since the drug is already approved, his team doesn’t have to go through a slog of regulatory approval for trials, and that the FDA is interested in drug repurposing, which appears to be a growing area of drug discovery. The same process was recently used to identify drugs during the Ebola outbreak. Liang says his team is also looking at ways to modify and optimize CCZ to make it more effective and suitable for humans.

With CCZ costing about $0.50 a tablet for allergy-related uses, the big question is whether a new hepatitis treatment that could come from existing drugs would be more affordable. Liang says he doesn’t have a “clear answer” to that question, but he says he envisions a few scenarios where the treatment could bring down costs. “If this particular class of drugs turns out to be effective against hepatitis C, it could be used in combination with existing drugs to perhaps shorten the duration of use,” he says. “Instead of [taking the drugs] for three or six months it could be [taken] for four weeks. That will certainly reduce the cost of the drugs because you are not taking them for as long.”

More research is needed in the search for better treatments for the 3.2 million Americans living with chronic hepatitis C.

TIME medicine

You Asked: Why Is My Hair Falling Out?

You Asked: Why Is My Hair Falling Out?
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Drugs can help. But a lasting solution might require lifestyle changes.

First, let’s debunk a few myths: Shampooing, brushing and towel drying your hair aren’t making it fall out. “People associate these things with hair loss because they see the hair come away. But these aren’t the cause,” says Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist with the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, Piliang says shampooing less frequently may make things worse. “It can lead to dandruff and scalp inflammation, which can exacerbate hair loss,” she says.

Hats and ponytails also get a bum rap. “If a ponytail is worn so tightly it pulls on your eyes, that could damage your hair and lead to breakage,” Piliang acknowledges, adding that tight braiding, extensions and weaves—which yank on small groups of hair follicles—can also cause problems. “But generally wearing a ponytail or a hat won’t cause hair loss,” she says.

Men and women lose their hair for different and interrelated reasons, ranging from genetic factors to a poor diet, says Dr. Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research at the Montefiore-Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “It’s rare for hair loss to be caused by just one thing,” he says.

To understand these causes, it’s helpful to know how your hair works. Similar to the way your skin’s cells turn over, your hair is constantly sprouting, growing and falling out. Guys with healthy hair shed between 60 to 80 follicles a day, while women lose roughly 100, Friedman says.

When it comes to male- and female-pattern baldness—the most common types of hair loss—certain hairs grow in shorter and shorter over time, and eventually stop growing back at all. This is usually the result of a genetic sensitivity to hormones in the skin, Friedman says. “In men, you see this most in the front and sides of the scalp,” he explains. “In women, it’s more centrally located and diffuse.” Friedman says this is a slow process, one that can take years to become apparent.

For these people, drugs that block the production of skin hormones or keep hairs from falling out—such as minoxidil and finasteride—tend to work well, Friedman says. But both are better at stopping hair loss than they are at regrowing hair. “If you’re bald and want treatment, there’s often not much you can do,” he says. For this reason, it’s imperative that you see a doctor as soon as you notice a problem.

Poor nutrition is another potential contributing factor. Friedman says low levels of iron, vitamin D, some B vitamins and zinc have all been linked to hair loss. While typically not the main cause of your thinning mane, nutrient or vitamin deficiencies can make the problem worse, he says. Fixing your diet or taking supplements can help, but it’s often just one part of a multifaceted solution.

If clumps come out when you shower or you notice thinning in just a few weeks or months, you’re more likely dealing with another common condition called acute telogen effluvium, Piliang says. This rapid hair loss is basically a short-term ramping up of your hair’s normal shedding process.

Any event that puts a lot of stress on your body—like childbirth, surgery or rapid weight loss—can result in this alarming, clumpy hair loss, which tends to start a couple months after the event, Piliang says. The shedding can last for six months and may result in your losing up to 70% of your hair. But typically the hair grows back, she explains.

There are many more explanations for hair loss, including scalp infections, inflammatory diseases like alopecia areata, or systemic diseases like lupus. Treatments vary widely and may include a combination of oral or topical drugs, light therapy, dietary changes, and stress-reducing interventions. You really need an expert’s help to assemble all the puzzle pieces, says Dr. Laurel Schwartz, a dermatologist in private practice at the Philadelphia Institute of Dermatology.

If you’re experiencing skin irritation, redness, scaling or pain, Schwartz recommends seeing someone ASAP to head off risks like permanent hair loss and scarring.

More good advice: Stay away from “miracle” cures marketed online or in late-night TV infomercials. They’re not the answer. “Hair loss is such an emotionally charged experience,” Schwartz says. “And when you’re really upset, you’re willing to try anything.” Time spent experimenting with different over-the-counter or infomercial products is often time (and money) wasted.

Your hair can offer a glimpse of what’s going on in the rest of the body, Schwartz says. “If you notice a problem, discuss it with a doctor to determine the ultimate cause.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 2

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. McDonald’s is raising wages for 90,000 employees. That’s a good start, and a strong message to other fast food outlets.

By Shan Li and Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times

2. “It must be right:” The human instinct to trust the authority of machines can be dangerous when life is on the line.

By Bob Wachter in Backchannel

3. As college acceptance letters roll in, women should ask about sexual assault prevention on campus.

By Veena Trehan at Nation of Change

4. When corporate values clash with policy in conservative states, big business has a powerful veto tool.

By Eric Garland in Medium

5. Amazon’s Dash button isn’t a hoax. It’s a step toward a true “Internet of Things.”

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles in the Wall Street Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME medicine

This Is What Binge Watching TV Does to Your Health

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Cultura/Liam Norris—Getty Images

Every hour spent sitting in front of the TV can increase your risk of diabetes

It’s easy—and tempting—to settle in for a marathon session with your favorite TV show, but that indulgence may come back to haunt you.

In a study of people at higher risk of developing diabetes, researchers say that every hour spent sitting can increase the risk of developing the metabolic disorder by 3.4%. For a day-long binge, that could be as much as a 30% higher risk. “With streaming TV, you can watch a program continuously; instead of watching just half an hour once day a week, you can watch a whole season in a day, so we expect to see increases in sitting to continue,” says Andrea Kriska, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh and senior author of the paper on the effects of TV on diabetes risk in the journal Diabetologia.

Kriska is part of the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, which found that people who spent more time sitting, whether in front of the TV or at work, were more likely to develop diabetes than those who sat less, regardless of how much they exercised.

MORE: Sitting Is Killing You

The group started with the population of people at higher risk of developing diabetes who were enrolled in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Some were assigned to exercise at least 150 minutes at a moderate level each week and change their diet with the goal of losing 7% of their body weight. Others were given the diabetes drug metformin, and another group was given a placebo. In 2002, after more than three years, those who adopted the lifestyle changes lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 58%, compared to 31% for those taking the drug.

More and more data suggest that to reduce disease, it’s not just enough to exercise more; you have to sit, less too. The scientists wanted to see what role, if any, sitting played in this reduction. Did being more physically active lead to helping people be less sedentary? And did time spent sitting have any connection with the rate of diabetes?

MORE: Sitting Can Increase Your Risk of Cancer By Up to 66%

“What we found was yes, and yes,” says Bonny Rockette-Wagner, from the department of epidemiology at Pittsburgh. “There is an independent effect of sitting behavior on diabetes incidence that does not have to do with physical activity. It’s an independent, additional effect.”

The researchers asked the 3,232 people in group how much time they spent sitting at work and how much time they spent watching TV, as a proxy for their total sedentary time. They also asked them about their leisure time physical activity and measured their blood glucose levels. After three years, the lifestyle group spent fewer hours sitting than the metformin and placebo groups, despite the fact that sitting less was not a specific goal of the program. And the more time they spent off their chairs, the lower their risk of going on to develop diabetes.

MORE: An Hour of Exercise Can Make Up for a Day of Sitting Down

The results suggest that efforts to help high-risk people avoid diabetes should include a goal of sitting less. That’s what Kriska and Rockette-Wagner are starting to do in their community sessions in which they teach people about the Diabetes Prevention Program. Instead of focusing exclusively on the target of 150 minutes of exercise each week, they’re asking people to think about sitting less, starting by spending a few minutes fewer on the couch each day and building up to becoming more active.

MORE: Sitting All Day Isn’t As Bad If You Do This

The researchers admit that simply sitting less won’t replace being physically active, but after so much focus on getting sedentary people to move, getting them to think about sitting less may be just as productive.

TIME medicine

See Which State Has the Highest Daily Use of Mood-Altering Drugs

It's also been ranked as the unhappiest state

Nearly one in five Americans admits to taking some sort of drug every day to help relax—most of them in states that rate low on the income and happiness scales, according to a new survey.

West Virginians are by far the most likely to take a prescription or over-the-counter drug to chill out, with 28 percent of those polled saying they do. Alaska appears to be the most naturally laid-back state, with just 13.5 percent saying they use drugs to calm down.

The rates are probably even higher than that, says Dan Witters, research director of the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME medicine

How 3D Imaging Can Tell Exactly How Old You Are

You may be able to dodge questions about your age, but your face can’t

For the first time, scientists have used 3D imaging of a people’s faces to predict their age. The 3D information was so accurate, in fact, that it was better at pinpointing age than the best known marker, a test that involves studying the DNA.

Reporting in the journal Cell Research, Jing-Dong J Han, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, found that certain facial measures are reliable predictor’s of a person’s biological age. The researchers analyzed 3D facial images from more than 300 people, and matched them up with measurements from several dozen blood markers including cholesterol and albumin. Specifically, the width of the mouth and nose, and the distance between the mouth and nose tend to expand with age, and the eyes tend to droop over time. Measuring this change provides a relatively stable way of tracking, and predicting, a person’s age.

“Overall facial features show higher correlations with age than the 42 blood markers that are profiles in routine physical exams,” says Han.

 

Weiyang Chen–2015 Nature Publishing Group. Visualizations of facial aging.

MORE: Human Faces Can Express at Least 21 Distinct Emotions

She arrived at the finding after hearing a colleague present work on using 3D facial images to quantify racial differences. “It immediately struck me that facial images might be a potential good phenotype to include in our study to quantify the extent of aging,” she says. “I did not expect to see such remarkable changes with age, nor did I expect the 3D images to be such an accurate biomarker for biological age.”

Why is it important? Han says that pinpointing how quickly a person is aging via the relatively easy 3D algorithm could have useful health implications that go beyond keeping people honest about their age. Such a measure might provide a window into deeper physiological processes that could be aging abnormally fast. “It might have important implications for assessing the risks of aging-associated diseases, and for designing personalized treatment schemes to improve their life styles and health,” she says.

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