Ears and nose: Here are 2 body parts that grow larger as we age, according to a study

There’s sufficient science to back the common belief that our ears and noses tend to enlarge as we get older.

Anecdotally, old people, especially men, have been seen to have bigger ears than the average person. It would seem the older you get, the larger these two body parts become. Scientists say the average person stops growing in their early 20s, so what accounts for the increase in ear and nose sizes?

Are they really growing?

Although the human skeleton ceases to grow after age 20, the skin, cartilage and muscles continue to change with age. The tissues connecting the skin to the cartilage—a flexible tissue harder than the skin, but softer than bone—weaken as time passes, reducing the level of support it gives the skin. This causes your skin to lose elasticity in turn leads to saggy skin. The change in the shape or size of the ear and nose is a result of the loose or saggy skin over a weaker cartilage frame.

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Getty/ George Mdivanian / EyeEm

If you pay attention, you might find that the rest of your face changes in ways that make your nose and ear more prominent. For instance, if your cheeks and lips appear thinner, your nose might look bigger in comparison. Also, earlobes droop, a phenomenon that can be accentuated by heavy earrings.

Longer ears, longer life

A study in 1993 by a British GP and a team of scientists, measured the ears of a randomly selected group of 206 of their patients over the age of 30, and calculated that ears increased by an average of 0.22 mm per year – a centimetre over 50 years. According to the researchers:

A chance observation–that older people have bigger ears–was at first controversial but has been shown to be true.

It might interest you to know that in the Chinese art of physiognomy one long-standing belief is that long ears predict longevity.

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