Oh, Those Lines

Smoking Takes A Terrible Toll

We are surrounded by all sorts of methods to maintain youth. Nobody wants to grow old - or, perhaps better said, nobody wants to look old. It's okay to be 40 or 50-something and look much younger, but it is so-not-cool to be 30-something and look 50 or 60. We are all very aware of the fact that spending too much time in the sun can age our skin. However, there is something that will do our skin in as fast as, or even faster, than the sun. Smoking.

There is no kind or easy way to get the message across, especially since so many people just don't listen well. If you are a smoker, you need to quit smoking. Even though the number of smokers world-wide is declining, there are still over a million newbies to the sport every year in the US alone. Many of these new smokers are women and it won't be until they are older that they will regret the toll taken on their looks as a result of lighting up.

"For smokers, middle-age starts in their early 30's as the tell-take wrinkles around the mouth and eyes begin to appear. Young female smokers are likely to be wasting their money on anti-aging face creams if they continue to smoke." Amanda Sandford, Action on Smoking Health

The Unequal Opportunity Addiction

The reality is that smoking is not an addiction that is kinder to one sex over the other. This is definitely not an equal opportunity addiction (if there is such a thing). Women pay a much higher price than men when it comes to the net effects of smoking, and the facts are borne up by myriad studies and bodies of medical research. For instance, women have a much harder time quitting than men do because nicotine is more addictive to women than men. Additionally, women smokers have two times the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and lung cancer than their male counterparts. Three times the number of women who die of breast cancer are killed by lung cancer-that number sits at about 70,000 per year. Early menopause has been linked to cigarette smoking as well.

"Smoker's Face"

Then, to add insult to injury, the damage to the skin of women is far worse than to men who smoke. Women are more likely to have smoker's face than men. What is smoker's face? The phrase was first coined in 1965 when a study first identified the gray, pale and wrinkled skin consistent among people who smoked as something that is inherent in the habit. The chief Medical Officer of the UK recently pointed out the connection between smoking and skin damage by saying that smoking adds between 10-20 years to your natural age.

How The Damage Happens

Smoking increases skin damage through the formation of free radicals in the body caused by exposure to tobacco smoke. These days we are all aware of the negative effects of free radicals, those very unstable and powerful molecules that go around wreaking havoc in the DNA of cells. The skin cells then become erratic and damage ensues. This skin damage is caused by blood flow restriction through the capillaries which means a lack of oxygen and valuable nutrients to the skin. Collagen, which is vital to the suppleness and elasticity of the skin, is broken down by an enzyme that is increased through free radical damage. Our skin is protected through vitamins A and C, both of which are reduced and blocked from absorption through the interference of free radicals. One of the classic signs of smoker's face is the deeply set wrinkles around the eyes and mouth that are caused by puckering up to suck on a cigarette.

The only way to stop the damage is to quit smoking. You will never have the skin you could have had if you hadn't smoked because it is impossible to completelyreverse the damage. However, with excellent skin care there is hope.

In the mean time, stay away from cigarettes. They are in no way good for you health or looks!


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