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how cigarettes affect the aging process

Do you smoke combustible cigarettes? According to the Office for National Statistics, between 12.3 and 13.8 per cent of adults in the UK smoke, and while most people are aware that smoking combustible cigarettes has a negative effect on health and can lead to COPD and lung and throat cancer, they don’t often realize that it can lead to premature aging. According to a study on the Assessment of Age-Related Differences in Smoking Status and Health-Related Quality of Life, smoking can make a person look 10 or more years older than their chronological age.

Do Cigarettes Make You Age Faster?

If you’re asking yourself the question, do cigarettes make you age faster, the answer is yes. Combustible cigarettes contain more than 600 ingredients and 7,000 chemical compounds with at least 69 of those chemicals known to cause cancer. A few of the more common chemicals include acetone, arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, lead, carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar and toluene. It’s unknown as to which factors directly affect the aging of the skin. However, it’s believed that melanocyte formations in the skin combined with oxygen and nutrient deprivation contribute to skin aging, the development of dark spots and uneven skin colour.

Decreases in Collagen

Combustible cigarettes speed up the aging process in the body by inhibiting the formation of collagen and elastin and causing stress in the skin fibroblasts. Collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping your skin strong and firm. As these two substances decrease, it can make the skin appear older.

Increases in the Formation of Wrinkles

Smoking can increase the number of wrinkles you have on your face. Individuals who smoke combustible cigarettes tend to have more wrinkles in the middle and lower third of their faces compared to non-smokers of similar ages. Wrinkles are also most prominent around the mouth, on the upper lip and on the forehead.

Increased Formation of Age Spots

Smokers of combustible cigarettes have more age spots or dark spots on their skin. This is due to melanocyte formation on the skin. Some people even display uneven pigmentation. All of this can make a person appear older than their chronological age.

Increased Areas of Sagging Skin

Smoking combustible cigarettes causes water loss in the skin. When this is combined with the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the skin starts to sag. Smokers tend to experience sagging under their eyes, breasts and in their armpits and inner arms.

Damaged Teeth and Gums

Smoking combustible cigarettes damages the teeth and gums. The nicotine and tar in combustible cigarettes cause the teeth to turn yellow. The hot smoke and lower oxygen levels in the blood can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease as well as tooth loss. All of this can make a smoker appear to be older than their chronological age.

Increased Risk of Developing Psoriasis and Eczema

Individuals who smoke combustible cigarettes or who are exposed to combustible cigarette smoke have an increased risk of developing psoriasis and eczema, and it may be more difficult to treat with medications.

Increased Risk of Developing Androgenic Alopecia

Combustible cigarette smokers are at an increased risk for developing androgenic alopecia, which is also often referred to as male-patterned baldness. However, this can occur in both male and female smokers. While androgenic alopecia is generally caused by exposure to androgens, which are male sex hormones, it can be exasperated by smoking combustible cigarettes. When smoking is a contributing factor to hair loss, it’s caused by the degradation of the DNA, blood vessel constriction and damage to the hair follicles by free radicals.

Yellow Stains on Your Fingers and Nails

Individuals who have been smoking combustible cigarettes for a prolonged length of time start to develop yellow stains on the ends of their fingers and fingernails from the nicotine. This can make your fingernails look old and worn.

Increased Risk of Developing Cataracts

Individuals who smoke combustible cigarettes are more likely to develop cataracts. Cataracts appear on the lens of the eye and prevent light from reaching the retina. Individuals who are developing cataracts may notice that colours appear muted or dull, and that their vision is becoming increasingly blurry. The only way to remove cataracts is with laser eye surgery.

How Quitting Smoking Can Help Improve Your Appearance

The good news is that you do not have to continue to let smoking prematurely age you, and some of the effects of smoking will heal over time. For example, did you know that your blood pressure and heart rate will return to normal levels 20 minutes after your last cigarette? After 12 hours, your body will rid itself of the carbon monoxide, which means your oxygen levels will improve. After 30 days, your lung function will improve, which further increases the oxygen levels in your body, and the health benefits just keep increasing for every day, week, month and year that you do not smoke combustible cigarettes.

The Appearance of Wrinkles Will Decrease

As your blood flow and oxygen levels improve, your skin cell turnover will increase. This can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles on your face.

Teeth and Finger Staining Will Decrease

Once you stop smoking combustible cigarettes, the staining on your fingers and nails will disappear, and the staining on your teeth will decrease. However, to remove all the staining on your teeth and to fix any tooth and gum damage, you’ll want to visit your dentist. The good news is that once all your dental problems are fixed, your teeth and gums will look younger and be healthier.

You’ll Prevent Further Damage to Your Skin

Once you stop smoking, you’ll prevent further damage to your skin and reduce your chances of developing skin cancer, psoriasis, eczema and acne.

How to Stop Smoking

If you want to stop smoking and prevent premature aging, one of the best ways is with a nicotine replacement. Nicotine replacement therapies can be lozenges, gum, patches and even vaping pens. The trick is to choose the right product for you, and for most smokers, they find it easiest to switch from combustible cigarettes to vaping pens because it simulates the smoking experience.

Another benefit of vaping pens and e-liquids is that you can choose the type of liquid and the nicotine strength that’s best for you. The UK has nicotine e-liquid with up to 20mg of nicotine, which is currently the legal maximum in the country. Vapers can also choose between a variety of flavours , including lemon tart, mango, tropical and berry menthol.

To get started, all you have to do is walk into your local vape shop or check out the vape pen and e-liquid varieties at Monster Vape Labs. You can make the switch from combustible cigarettes to vape pens so that you can stop smoking and improve your health as well as the appearance of your skin.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564903/

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/staying-sharp/looking-after-your-thinking-skills/how-smoking-harms-the-brain/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2772628222000061

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/drugusealcoholandsmoking/bulletins/smokingprevalenceintheukandtheimpactofdatacollectionchanges/2020

https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/ss/slideshow-ways-smoking-affects-looks

https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/whats-in-a-cigarette

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/181299#complications

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317956#timeline