Does a smoker differ from a non-smoker by only a pack of cigarettes in a pocket and a specific tobacco smell? As it turned out, the differences are not limited to these only.

Plastic surgeons in the USA, who worked with twins for several years, one of whom was a smoker and another one was not, came to the conclusion that the skin of smokers is aging much faster. After several years of smoking, changes in appearance and health become visible not only to scientists.

MMP-1 Code Name

The trigger of aging is negligible at first sight. It turned out that smoking activates the gene responsible for producing an enzyme that damages skin collagen. In non-smoking people, this gene is not active. Collagen is a structural skin protein that supports its elasticity. If it starts decomposing, the skin becomes flabby and wrinkled.

The certain study was conducted by the Royal Medical College in London. Professor Anthony Young and his colleagues studied the activity of the MMP-1 gene, the one that damages collagen. In 14 smokers and 14 nonsmokers, the skin was examined and it was found that smokers have a significant increase of MMP-1 gene activity.

Professor Young believes that smoking heavily affects the skin in a way that it becomes easy to distinguish a smoker from a non-smoker by simply looking at a person’s face. Smokers have more wrinkles and their skin is painfully pale in color. Professor Young also warned of the dangerous effects of solar ultraviolet radiation, which is especially harmful to the face skin.

Amanda Sandford, the head of the research department of the international program “Smoking and Health”, hopes that the obtained results will help to educate smokers, especially young ones.

There is an irony concerning young smokers: teenagers start smoking in order to look older in the psychological sense but it turns out that they are aging physiologically! People who start smoking in young age, have vivid wrinkles around their mouths and eyes by the age of 25.

Danish Experiment

There was one interesting investigation held in Denmark. Scientists revealed the negative effect of regular smoking by analyzing the data collected during long-term observations of cardiovascular system functioning. The test people were Copenhagen residents who had any health problems starting from 1976 to 2003.

The social services of Denmark that conducted these observations, watched not only the health of the circulatory system of about 11,000 Danes but also collected a wide variety of information about patients appearance, diet, and bad habits. This allowed scientists to assess how the use of a large amount of tobacco affects the body.

In addition to the typical changes in the functioning of the liver, lungs and other organs, scientists noticed several unusual characteristics of heavy smokers. For example, many of them have deposits of cholesterol and other fats in the eye cornea, as well as yellowish plaques on the eyelids and other skin areas, wrinkles around the mouth, eyes and on earlobes.

Interestingly, all these changes in the human body and face are usually typical for a completely different category of people – the elderly people and those having various genetic defects that cause a person to prematurely grow old. Accordingly, it can be said that the effect of tobacco ages the human body and it can harm the body and skin not only on the surface but from within.

As you see, regardless whatever the experiment is, the result is the same – it shows that severe smoking leads to the development of seeable age-related signs. It means normally smokers look older than non-smoker due to early wrinkles, change of face skin color and texture and other related symptoms. The aging process is launched earlier that natural aging cycles start. That is why as a smoker if you want to remove unwanted wrinkles on your face, the best way is to start from changing your habit.

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Catharine Willason

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