Through the Years: Smoking and Aging
The health issues related to smoking are clear: tobacco products can cause lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, and stroke. There is no denying these facts, but they aren’t the only important issues people should consider when avoiding tobacco products. Smoking does more than ruin the tissues found inside the body, it also ruins the skin, hair, and teeth.
Smoking and Aging
In a society that values youth above all else, it’s amazing that anyone continues to smoke. Everyone ages, but those who smoke do so at a faster rate than those who do not. Wrinkles may appear after only ten years of lighting up regularly, even in those who wouldn’t normally wrinkle for many years later. Yellow teeth, another sign of age, are also common among those who smoke. Skin, hair, and nails may be duller and less vibrant in smokers as well. Add to this the bad breath and overall tobacco scent most smokers have on them at all times, and it’s easy to see why smokers are often perceived as much older than they actually are.
There are numerous areas where smoking can impact the aging process.
Wrinkles appear much faster in those who smoke, giving them the appearance of people much older. This occurs as smoking damages tissues, reduces blood flow to the skin, and prevents vitamins and crucial oxygen from reaching the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking also damages collagen and elastin directly, both of which are contributors to aging.
Smoking yellows the teeth, which is more common in older adults. It can also contribute to gum disease, and may make dental procedures less effective when they are needed. In those with severe gum disease, the teeth may actually fall out.
Smoking can impact the voice in a number of ways. Constant exposure to smoke can dry and damage the vocal chords, while the inhalation of carbon monoxide and other chemicals reduces blood flow to the throat and other areas of the body. This can lead to a “smoker’s cough” and raspy voice in smokers.
According to Health.com, smoking may cause bags under your eyes and an overall tired, older appearance. This is also due to the damaging effects of inflammation and reduced blood flow to the eyes.
What can be Done?
There is an entire industry which aims to help people fight aging. Wrinkle creams, moisturizers and makeup may help diminish the signs of aging to some extent, when they are used regularly. Over time, these will not make up for the added damage done to skin by cigarettes, however.
Eating right and drinking plenty of water can also help. Reducing sun exposure may continue to help combat the signs of aging, as well as using an effective sunscreen.
The only way to truly reduce the effects smoking has on aging, however, is to stop smoking. This can be a challenge for some, especially those who have been smoking for years. It can be done, however, and there are numerous tools out there to help smokers quit. These can include prescription medications, as well as nicotine replacements.
For more motivation to quit smoking once and for all, visit The Real Cost of Smoking.
Read more about the effects cigarette smoke has on the human body at The Effects of Smoking.