Minggu, 11 Maret 2012

Longevity Ear 长寿耳

Old Men (and Women) and Bigger Ears
Ears keep growing as you age

Michael Woods
Toledo Blade
November 10, 2003

Why do old men have big ears?

The old men-big ears idea is no cliche or optical illusion that occurs because ears look bigger relative to head size on people with less hair.

A dozen scientific studies have tackled the topic, including the ear-size landmark, done in 1999 at the University of Milan in Italy. Scientists used computer analysis to document the "normal" sizes of facial structures and how structures change as people age.

Ears, they found, do get larger with age. And the study found that old women have big ears too -- although hair styles often hide it.

A British doctor named James A. Healhcote may have pioneered modern research on the topic with a 1995 study that involved several other physicians. They measured ear length in hundreds of patients, aged 30 to 93, and concluded that ears grow an average of 0.01 inches a year.

Japanese scientists confirmed it in a 1996 study of 400 people.

Researchers say that people who live to old age have bigger ears because there's more time for their ears to grow.

One London scientist immediately challenged that in a report published in the British Medical Journal. He argued that old men's ears look bigger because of a trend toward smaller ears in young people. Maybe it's because of passive smoking or changes in parenting, he said, noting that older people got their ears scrubbed or "boxed" -- smacked as punishment -- regularly.

A specialist on aging from Cambridge, England, wrote to the BMJ and said the findings might mean ears are a "biological marker" for longevity. Men with small ears may die younger, leaving a population of healthier old people with big ears.

Some doctors advise that men with the "positive ear lobe crease" pay special attention to controlling heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol and cigarette smoking.

BMJ 1995;311:1668 (23 December)


Why do old men have big ears?
James A Heathcote, general practitioner a
a South View Lodge, Bromley, Kent BR1 3DR

In July 1993, 19 members of the south east Thames faculty of theRoyal College of General Practitioners gathered at Bore Place, inKent, to consider how best to encourage ordinary general practitionersto carry out research. Some members favoured highly structuredresearch projects; others were fired by serendipity and theobservations of everyday practice. Someone said, "Why do oldmen have big ears? Some members thought that this was obviouslytrue--indeed some old men have very big ears--but others doubted it,and so we set out to answer the question "As you get older doyour ears get bigger?"
Methods and results
Four ordinary general practitioners agreed to ask patients attending forroutine surgery consultations for permission to measure the size oftheir ears, with an explanation of the idea behind the project. Theaim was to ask consecutive patients aged 30 or over, of either sex,and of any racial group. Inevitably it was sometimes notappropriate--for example, after a bereavement or importantdiagnosis--to make what could have seemed so frivolous a request,and sometimes (such as when a surgery was running late) patientswere not recruited. The length of the left external ear was measuredfrom the top to the lowest part with a transparent ruler; the result(in millimetres), together with the patient's age, was recorded. Nopatients refused to participate, and all the researchers weresurprised by how interested (if amused) patients were by theproject. The data were then entered on to a computer and analysedwith Epi-Info; the relation between length of ear and the patient'sage was examined by calculating a regression equation.

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Scatter plot of length of ear against age
In all, 206 patients were studied (mean age 53.75 (range 30-93; medianage 53) years). The mean ear length was 675 mm (range 520-840 mm),and the linear regression equation was: ear length=55.9+(0.22 xpatient's age) (95% confidence intervals for B co-efficient 0.17 to0.27). The figure shows a scatter plot of the relation betweenlength of ear and age.
It seems therefore that as we get older our ears get bigger (onaverage by 0.22 mm a year).
A literature search on Medline by the library at the Royal College ofGeneral Practitioners that looked for combinations of "ears, external,""size and growth," "males," and "aging" producedno references.
A chance observation--that older people have bigger ears--was atfirst controversial but has been shown to be true. For the researchersthe experience of involving patients in business beyond theirpresenting symptoms proved to be a positive one, and it wasrewarding to find a clear result. Why ears should get bigger whenthe rest of the body stops growing is not answered by this research.Nor did we consider whether this change in a particular part of theanatomy is a marker of something less easily measurable elsewhere orthroughout the body.
I acknowledge the generous help of Drs Colin Smith and David Armstrongand Ms Sandra Johnston with the data analysis; the work of my fellowdata collectors, Drs Ian Brooman, Keren Hull, and David Roche; andthe support of all members of the Bore Place group.
BMJ 1996;312:582 (2 March)

Lifelong follow up study of young people isneeded

EDITOR,--James A Heathcote reports a correlation between earlength and age in a sample of adult patients, but can he substantiatehis conclusion that "as we get older our ears get bigger"?1 Analternative (and much more intriguing) interpretation of thefindings is that a secular trend towards smaller ears has occurredduring most of the present century. Have the senior citizens in thesample had big ears all their adult lives, and will the youngermembers keep their smaller ones? If so, what environmental factors,presumably operating during childhood or adolescence, might havebeen responsible? I wonder whether there has been a steady declinein the boxing or scrubbing of children's ears, or whether big earsare simply another result of passive smoking. This interpretativedoubt seems to call for extended pinnametric research by Heathcoteand his successors: the question can be resolved only by a lifelongfollow up study of a cohort of young patients.
Professor of haematology 4 Ruskin Close, London NW11 7AU
R M Hardisty

  1. Heathcote JA. Why do old men have big ears? BMJ 1995;311:1668. (23-30 December.)


Why do old men have big ears?

The Chinese believe that long ears predict longevity ...
EDITOR,--Readers may be interested to know that in the Chinese artof physiognomy one longstanding belief is that long ears predictlongevity. There are several possible interpretations of theobserved (cross sectional) positive correlation between age and earsize in James A Heathcote's study.1Heathcote suggests that as we get older our ears get bigger. Anotherinterpretation may be that big ears predict survival: men withsmaller ears may die selectively at younger ages. Ear size orpattern, or both, may be a marker of some biological process relatedto health. Several reports have related the diagonal earlobe creaseto coronary heart disease and all cause mortality.23Petrakis noted the diagonal earlobe crease in statues of EmperorHadrian and postulated that he may have had coronary heart diseaseand congestive heart failure.4However, I don't think that I would go as far as my grandmother (oneof the last generation of Chinese women with bound feet), whom Iremember admonishing me in early childhood to stretch my ears dailyto ensure long life.
Professor of clinical gerontology Clinical Gerontology Unit, Addenbrooke'sHospital, CambridgeCB2 2QQ
Kay-Tee Khaw

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