Smoking and its effects on aging

ABC7’s The More in the Morning team spoke with Dr. Michael K. Kim, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, about to talk about a 2013 study that reviewed the effects of smoking on aging. The study was published in the journal of plastic & reconstructive surgery and only used twins as participants. It found that the participants in the study who were smokers looked visibly older — more wrinkles, bags under their eyes, sagging skin, etc.

The study, by researchers at the Department of Plastic Surgery at Case Western Reserve University, looked at 79 sets of twins between the ages of 18 and 78 at the annual August gathering of twins in Twinsburg, Ohio. Each person had his or her picture taken by a professional photographer.

The photos were divided into two categories. The first group was 45 sets of twins in which one smoked and the other didn’t. The other group was made up of smokers, but in each set, one twin had smoked at least five years longer than the other.

In the case of the first group, the judges said the smoking twin appeared older 57% of the time. For the second set, the longer-smoking twin looked older more than 63% of the time, meaning the aging differences could set in after just five years.

The study looked at other aging factors – alcohol consumption, stress and sunscreen use, for instance – and found they were similar in these sets of twins. It didn’t address changes in the twins’ living environment or diet. Smoking reduces the collagen formation, results in collagen degradation and reduces the skin circulation. Additionally, nicotine reduces the skin thickness. All of these reduce skin elasticity and (cause) premature aging.

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