Digital Ageing

Reporter: Clare Brady

Dee Rasmussen, 33 years old, has smoked for two decades, drinks daily, has used solariums and sunbaked. Matthew Carpenter, 32, smokes 25 cigarettes, drinks daily and has minimal sleep. Dee and Matthew are typical of their age -- living for now, investing in their social lives but not the future of their faces.

Professor David Ames, specializes in the aging process and heads the National Ageing Research Institute. "How you age is partly determined by your genes, by the blueprint for your body had that you inherit from your parents", he said. But what we do as individuals now, can alter the outcome. Bad habits can rise to the surface and for some of us, that will mean wearing our prematurely aged faces like a badges of dishonour. "The two main things associated with skin aging are exposure to the sun and cigarette abuse", Professor Ames said.

This year Dee quit smoking, but she's haunted by mistakes. Matt walks his dog daily, but smokes with every step. He manages bars, so his hours are long and he gets little sleep. Dee and Matthew are brave -- brave enough to have our experts examine their lifestyles and reveal the consequences -- thirty years down the track revealed in a split second. "I don't really like that -- my cheeks look a little saggy, a little veiny", Dee said. Dee said if she could turn back the clock, she "Definitely wouldn't have gone to the solarium". Matthew didn't fare any better.

Dermatologist, Greg Goodman has seen the results of living to excess and predicted Dee's long-term face. "You'd expect to see saggy eyebrow and eyelids, crows feet -- indented cheeks, lines around lips", he said. This may be a warning to us all. Nutritionist Dr. Tim Crowe said, "Ugly food equals ugly face". He believes there's magic in healthy eating. "The best sort of foods are lots of colourful fruits and veggies. Colour means different sorts of pigments -- carrots come out on top to protect the skin from damage from smoking and sun", he said.

"You would hope that sanity would prevail. There are so many habits we do to ourselves, we think we are immortal when we are young. If we had a crystal ball, you'd stop bad habits -- life may be a bit boring but good in the long term", Dr. Goodman said.