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Smoking prematurely ages skin: photographic evidence

November 5, 2013 by Works with Water


A new study of identical twins has pictorially shown just what effect smoking has on skin health. Photographs of 79 pairs of twins were shown to three judges to guess which twin smoked, or smoked for longer. The judges guessed right 57% of the time. Can you guess the smokers from the following photographs?

Out of the 79 pairs, forty-five sets of twins included one smoker and one non-smoker. Smokers tended to have more wrinkles and other signs of face ageing. But the differences were often small.

However, the difference was still observed when both twins were smokers but one had smoked for many years longer than the other.

There are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and many of them trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin. These are the fibres that give your skin its strength and elasticity. The consequences are that smokers are likely to get bags under their eyes and wrinkles around their lips earlier than non-smokers. Smoking also deprives the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients making it drier and giving it a grey wasted appearance.

“Smoking makes you look old. That’s all there is to it,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and George Washington University Medical Centre

“Besides lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes, just one more good reason to stop smoking is that it’s definitely making you look a lot older,” she told Reuters Health.

Dr Tanzi was not involved in the new study but said it confirms what she and others see in practice.

“The effects are cumulative. So you can benefit from stopping smoking at any time,” Tanzi added. But, “You want to be careful, because some of those changes may be permanent.”

The study was not just aimed at getting people to quit smoking, their hope is that it will encourage others never to start.

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