HOW SMOKING CAUSES WRINKLES AND PREMATURE AGEING
Smoking leads to wrinkles and premature aging by a couple of mechanisms, like reducing blood flow and reducing oxygen carrying capacity of the blood which prevents the skin cells from being supplied with all the nutrients they need. The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin which are fibres that gives skin its strong, elastic properties.
But what a lot of people don't know is that smoking is also the leading cause of premature ageing as well. Cigarettes not only age you on the surface with wrinkles but can actually age you from the inside as well.
But if you don’t believe us, then have a look at the study of twins, one smoking and one non-smoking.
HOW SMOKING CAUSES WRINKLES
Though wrinkles are obviously not anywhere as serious as many of the other side effects of smoking, they are certainly not something anyone actually wants. In fact, smoking is single largest reason for wrinkles (apart from age)!
Smoking doesn't cause wrinkles immediately of course, but it only takes a couple of years before cigarettes start taking their toll.
Cigarettes do this in a number of ways: the heat of the cigarettes end, the repeated shape your face pulls when you take a puff, the 4000 chemicals in each cigarette and the lack of oxygen your body gets because of smoke.
Unsurprisingly the most damaging to you are the 4000 chemicals in each cigarette. Not only are there 50 known carcinogens but even the chemicals which aren't actively harming you wearing down your body. The chemicals work to destroy the collagen and elastin, which are fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity.
The lack of oxygen you skin gets because of smoking doesn't help either. Smoking clogs up the arteries and veins of your body which (apart from dramatically increasing your risk of heart disease) stops your skin from getting the oxygen and vitamins it needs to rejuvenate properly.
And this isn't helped by the fact that the carbon monoxide made by cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen in your body! So when you smoke you get less oxygen in your body, and the bit that makes it through can't get to your skin anyway.
Lastly, the heat of the cigarette and the face you make every time you take a puff can make a difference as well. Though this hasn't been as documented as much as the above, having an extremely hot flame near your skin for years isn't good for your skin. And the constant wear from pulling the same face when you take a puff on a cigarette continually stretches the skin, making it sag quicker.
COMPARISON OF A SMOKING AND NON-SMOKING TWINS
The science is all well and good but does smoking really make that much of a difference?
The good news is that we can show you the difference smoking makes.
A couple of years ago a pair of 52 year old sisters were found who had led extremely similar lives, lived in the same town, worked in similar jobs and got the same amount of sun. The only difference was that one sister smoked 1 pack a week and the other didn't smoke.
The difference is quite startling, especially as the smoking twin only has 2-3 cigarettes a day! To many of us she would be considered by many as a very light smoker, but even so over time cigarettes took their toll.
SMOKING, INNER-BODY AGE AND AGE RELATED DISEASES
But it's not just your face that cigarettes ages, it's your insides too. Smoking plays an important role in speeding up conditions found in old age, such as dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, ulcers and more.
Like wrinkles, much of this is down to a couple of things, the long-term lack of oxygen and all of the chemicals and toxins in cigarettes. Smoking also seems to lowers the amount of antioxidant vitamins, such as ascorbic acid and vitamin E which help with keeping the body young.
Cancer Research UK also noted this years ago, and found that perhaps even worse the toxins in cigarettes actually destroy the genes in our bodies that fight ageing.
That means that smoking not only speeds up ageing, it stops the body from even fighting back!
Dr Irfan Rahman, associate professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester's Lung Biology and Disease Programme, said: "You can be 45 years old and look great on the outside, but if you are a smoker or former smoker, your lungs can easily be 60 years old".
E-Cigarettes don't have the 4000 chemicals that cause wrinkles (and none of the 50 known carcinogens) so you can still feel like you are smoking without worrying!