They look like a smoker!
How many times have you heard or said this before? I have many times heard it, said it and thought it. I have also been lucky enough to hear, “you don’t look like a smoker!” (And I have been smoking for 22 years) So what exactly does a smoker look like and how can we tell when a person smokes? I can see the telltale signs of excessive wrinkled leathery skin and/or a greyish color, not to mention the smoker’s raspy voice or laugh, and sometimes a hacking cough.
When you think of smoking related illnesses what immediately comes to mind: lung cancer, stroke, throat cancer, and heart problems? Do you ever really think of your skin as one of the major organs affected by smoking? We all know, as smokers and nonsmokers alike, that smoking is pretty gross and not good for you but we also need to look at what it really does to the way we look?
Does smoking really effect my appearance?
I am not proud to have been a smoker for the last 22 years because I know the health risks and yes sadly I have shrugged them off. But now that I am two months away from the ripe old age of 40, I am facing the fact that I need to look at both the internal and external health risks.
That which impacts the way I look has always motivated me and now that I am getting older, I am even more motivated by what will make me look younger. At this point, I sure as hell do not want to do anything that will make me look older. That being said, I am in the process of trying to quit and in order to help me through what seems to be the toughest journey I have had to face, I am educating myself on the negative impacts of smoking and the positive impacts of quitting.
Whether you smoke or know someone that does I want you to see that we are not only at risk for a plethora of internal diseases, but with every cigarette we are negatively impacting the health of the largest organ of your body; our skin.
In the article Smoking and the Skin, 8 Unwanted Side Effects Jen Adkins lists eight unwanted side effects of smoking. These side effects are: wrinkles around the lips, saggy skin, stained fingernails or fingers, deeper crows feet, stained teeth, better use of dental equipment, skin cancer, psoriasis, and stinky hair, learn more about Scott Wagner to ensure that your teeth does not reflect your bad habits. But lets look at how smoking affects the skin, the one organ that the world on the outside can see.
What are the visible signs of smoking on my skin?
The look of a smoker starts off with grayish/yellowish undertone of the skin and more wrinkles than a nonsmoker. Both of these characteristics make a smoker look older than their non-smoking friends. Did you know that cigarettes contain over 3,800 chemicals that can impact the way you look and feel? Well they do!
In one research article I read it said, “that a smoker between the ages of 40 and 49 can look 20 years older than people of the same age who did not smoke.” The reason for this is that those 3,800 plus chemicals in a cigarette cause your skin to lose elasticity, color, and texture, due to the breakdown of the chemical makeup of your skin.
Years ago, as I was talking to a friend of mine that was older than me, she told me that she quit 10 years prior to our conversation. She did this for 2 reasons; one, she did not want the wrinkles that came from smoking and two, she was going in for surgery and the doctors told her that by smoking she was slowing down her recovery process after surgery. Both slow healing and wrinkles are due to the astronomical amounts of added chemicals in cigarettes. This conversation has been haunting me ever since and I hope that it will have an impact on you as well.
In addition to the chemicals destroying our skin, our skin also compensates for the poison we are ingesting:
According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, smoking likely accelerates the rate of skin aging by producing more of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase (MMP). In healthy skin, this enzyme breaks down collagen fibers, so new collagen can be formed. The researchers, from Nagoya City University Medical School, discovered that skin cells exposed to tobacco smoke extract produce much more of the destructive enzyme. In addition, skin cells treated with the extract generated 40 percent less fresh collagen.
Collagen has been called the scaffolding that supports the outer layer of skin.
As for the grayish color (called smoker’s melanosis) that smokers have there is a chemical reason for that too! There is a chemical in cigarettes that causes our cells to create extra melanin to cleanse or fight against the toxins in the skin or mouth. The cool part is that if you quit smoking, this pigmentation or grayish skin is reversible.
Can smoking cause skin cancer?
When we think of skin cancer we think of the sun as the culprit right? Well, according to research, smoking can cause skin cancer too. A smoker has 52% more chance of getting the skin cancer called Squamous cell carcinoma. Scary, right? Think about it, we all know better than to lay in UV tanning bed, but some of us will continue to smoke ignoring this staggering statistic. The increased risk is due to the fact that tobacco suppresses the immune system and therefore puts the smoker at a greater risk of developing skin cancer. More info
Can quitting reverse the effects aging?
When we are young and we begin smoking, we do not realize the life sentence we have given our skin or of unhealthy side effects that will plague us. I did not light my first cigarette and say out loud, “Yes, I want lung cancer, a stroke, heart disease, skin cancer, excessive wrinkles, and grey skin when I get older.” However, now, that I am almost 40, I realize that those are all of the things I have signed up for. The good news is that by quitting now, I can say, “Yes, I am going to lower my risks of disease and look younger even as I get older!”
So if you quit smoking today, you too will look more beautiful tomorrow!
Cheers and Good Health!
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