Kaare Christensen

"Is mortality written on the face? - or elsewhere?"

Kaare Christensen
05/10 2016
12:15-13:15, Danish IAS conference room (Ø18-509-1)

Predicting length of life is of interest to individuals, medical doctors, demographers and researchers on aging. While most people would probably be uncomfortable with an exact prediction at an individual level (if that were possible), the identification of factors associated with health and survival can potentially provide the basis for decision making, interventions and public health initiatives. A series of “the usual suspects” is known to be associated with health and survival, e.g. birth cohort, gender, smoking and other life style factors, genetics, early life and socioeconomic factors. Over the last decades, this list has been extended with biomarkers of aging that include performance measures and molecular markers such as leukocyte telomere length and DNA methylation age. We have used nationwide cohort studies of twins, oldest-old individuals and long-lived families in Denmark to understand variance in health and survival and to identify clinically useful biomarkers of aging. Perhaps surprisingly, we have found that among the elderly, simple, low-tech biomarkers, including perceived age based on photos, are among the most powerful indicators of aging.