Most of us are aware of the serious health risks associated with cigarettes, but a new study shows the toil on our faces by the effects of sustained smoking. The study took 79 pairs of identical twins in which one smoked and the other didn’t, and found that the smokers had considerably more signs of premature aging.
The study was carried out in Cleveland Ohio, and was designed to identify facial aging caused by smoking, by the comparison of identical twins with different smoking histories.
Researchers invited twins from the Twins Day Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio from 2007 to 2010 where only one twin smoked or where one twin smoked for at least 5 years longer than his or her sibling, and questionnaires and photographs were taken.
These photographs were then analysed by a team of judges, who graded the facial features and wrinkles using a specific scale.
The results showed that the twin who smoked had much worse grades for premature aging around the eyes, the nose, around the mouth area and jowls.
The study revealed that in the upper third of the smoking twin’s face, there was not a statistically significant difference in scores, however, when it came to analysing the middle and lower thirds of the face, the premature aging was much more prevalent.
The specific areas that were affected were the lower lid bags, malar bags (bags under the eyes), and lower lip wrinkles, but typically smoking twins had worse scores for upper eyelid skin redundancy, nasolabial folds, upper lip wrinkles and jowls.
And the study showed that even smoking for 5 years made a statistically significant difference to the results.
Of the 79 pairs of twins, 57 were women and the average age was 48 years. Despite both the twins filling in a detailed questionnaire, which looked at other aspects of their lives, such as alcohol units consumed , sun protection used, the experts analysing the photograph knew nothing about either twins personal background.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, a plastic surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio explained that the reason the smoking twin looks older is that smoking reduces oxygen to the skin, which has the effect of decreasing blood circulation. If blood cannot circulate it cannot deliver vital nutrients to the skin, and smoking also affects collagen, which can lead to sagging and wrinkle prone skin.
There is also the action of smoking, where the lips are puckered and the eyes squint that can create additional wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. As well as this, depletion of Vitamin C can lead to the skin looking sallow and grey.
As Dr Guyuron says: “It is noteworthy that even among sets of twins where both are smokers, a difference in five years or more of smoking duration can cause visibly identifiable changes in facial aging.”
All images courtesy American Society of Plastic Surgeons.