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Why Do Smokers Look Older?


Why Do Smokers Look Older?



Q.  Why do Smokers Look Older?

A.  Every mouthful of cigarette smoke contains a trillion oxidants. Oxidants (otherwise known as free radicals) are bad [1] news when it comes to keeping you from looking young. Basically, early ageing — both inside and out — is inevitable if you smoke [2]. Therefore smokers look older. The link between smoking and lung cancer [3] is clear. Smoking damages the surface of your lungs [4], but oxidants damage every cell of your body — and that includes the skin, which starts to look saggy, wrinkly and less elastic. Why? Your skin stays elastic via its collagen content, which the body needs via vita-min C, a powerful antioxidant [5]. Yet with each cigarette you smoke you use up 35mg of vitamin C. You get the picture: so it’s not surprising that research has shown that smokers actually have thinner skin than non-smokers.


[1] V. Lobo, A. Patil, and N. Chandra. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. PMCID: PMC3249911.

[2] Grady D, Ernster V.  Does cigarette smoking make you ugly and old? PMID: 1585896.

[3] Proctor RN. The history of the discovery of the cigarette-lung cancer link: evidentiary traditions, corporate denial, global toll. PMID: 22345227.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US); Office on Smoking and Health (US). Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); 2010. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. ISBN-13: 978-0-16-084078-4.

[5] Panda K, Chattopadhyay R, Ghosh MK, Chattopadhyay DJ, Chatterjee IB. Vitamin C prevents cigarette smoke induced oxidative damage of proteins and increased proteolysis. PMID: 10569639.

Photo credit: Gianni Dominici / / CC BY-ND

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