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The secret of how we look young revealed

London, March 30: A new study of identical twins provides hard evidence on what keeps us looking younger for longer.

It was the French actress Catherine Deneuve who said that a woman over 30 years of age must choose between her body and her face as she attempts to hold back the effects of time. Now a major new study into the causes of ageing, to be published later this week in the Plastic and Reconstructive Journal, suggests that she was right.

Being thin is what ages us most, according to by Dr Bahaman Guyuron, one of the world's leading experts on the subject.

In the first study of its kind, Guyuron and his team at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, studied nearly 200 pairs of identical twins over two years. “The perceived age of an individual is usually attributed to both genetics and environment in various degrees,: says Dr Guyuron who is chairman of the Department of Plastic Surgery.

“While hundreds of studies have looked into how environmental factors, such as sun damage and smoking, are associated with facial ageing, conclusive data has been elusive. The reason is that despite the size and thoroughness of the studies, they weren't able to control one of the most important contributors of ageing — genetics. Because the twins’ genetic make-up was identical, the differences in how old they looked could be attributed solely to external factors, and not to ‘good or bad’ genes.”

The body mass index (BMI) of each twin was was calculated by dividing their weight in kg by their height in metres squared.

The ideal BMI for an adult is between 18.5 and 25. Anyone with a BMI lower than 18.5 is classed as underweight. “The twins were divided into groups based on a four-point BMI difference,” explains Guyuron. “A BMI higher by four points was found to result in a younger appearance of between two to four years in women over 40 years old.”

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