Port Huron Hospital – a leader in healing, your partner in health.

Smoking Adds Another Wrinkle to Aging

Everybody knows smoking is bad for your health. Now here's something you may not know: Smoking is bad for your looks.

It's true. From your rosy cheeks to your pearly whites, smoking doesn't just push you toward an early date with the grim reaper. It also makes you look that way.

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco have found that female smokers are three times as likely to have moderate to severe wrinkling as female nonsmokers. Male smokers have double the wrinkles of male nonsmokers.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that a person who smokes 10 or more cigarettes a day for 10 years is more likely to have deep, leathery wrinkles than someone who doesn't smoke. Smoking also changes the skin's hue, giving it a yellowish tinge.

Sources of damage

Here's how cigarette smoke and its component chemicals can damage your skin:

  • It reduces the body's ability to form collagen, the main structural component of skin. This causes elastin, the normally long, smooth and elastic fibers in skin, to thicken and break apart.

  • It reduces blood circulation, thereby reducing oxygen supplies to the skin.

  • It cuts estrogen levels in women, causing skin dryness and cracking.

  • Chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products cause irritation and dryness to the skin 

But wait: There's more

Smoking also steals your smile since it doubles a person's risk of losing teeth.

Tobacco use affects bone around the teeth, which irritates and destroys the gums, leading to tooth loss. Women who smoke cigarettes lose significantly more teeth than women who don't smoke.