How Smoking Affects Your Looks and Your Life
Smoking is the surefire way to make you look older and the effects are irreversible. It changes the skin, teeth, and hair in ways that can add years to your looks. It also affects everything from your fertility to the strength of your heart, lungs, and bones.
Chronic smoking deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients. So some smokers appear pale, while others develop uneven coloring. In young nonsmokers, we don't usually see a lot of uneven skin tone, but this develops more quickly in people who smoke.
Chemicals in tobacco can trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin. These are the fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. Smoking or even being around secondhand smoke degrades the building blocks of the skin. The consequences include sagging skin and deeper wrinkles. As skin loses its elasticity, parts that were once firm may begin to droop. This includes the inner arms and breasts.
Other Effects of smoking:
? It can lead to wrinkles and deep lines around the lips.
? Appearance of age spots are blotches of darker skin color that are common on the face and hands.
? Yellow teeth, gum disease, persistent bad breath, and other oral hygiene problems. Smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth as nonsmokers.
? Tobacco can actually stain the skin and nails, but these stains tend to fade when you quit smoking.
? Accelerates the process of hair loss. Some studies even suggest people who smoke are more likely to go bald.
? Makes you more likely to develop cataracts as you age. (These are cloudy areas on the lens of the eye that keep light from reaching the retina. If they cause serious vision problems, they are treated with surgery.)
? Smokers have a greater risk of developing psoriasis. (Psoriasis is a chronic condition that most often causes thick, scaly patches on the skin – usually on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or back. The patches may be white, red, or silver. )
? Develops crow’s feet and eye wrinkles. (Heat from burning cigarettes and squinting to keep smoke out of your eyes contribute to visible crow's feet. Meanwhile, chemicals from inhaled tobacco cause internal damage to the skin structures and blood vessels around your eyes.)
? Raises your risk of developing weakened bones, or osteoporosis. (This condition increases your risk for bone fractures including those of the spine, causing it to curve and leaving you hunched over.)
? Causes heart disease and erectile dysfunction. (The arteries that carry blood to the heart become narrowed over time. Smoking also increases blood pressure and makes it easier for blood to clot. These factors raise the odds of having a heart attack. In men who smoke, reduced blood flow can lead to erectile dysfunction.)
? Smokers tend to have a more rapid heart rate, poorer circulation, and more shortness of breath – not helpful qualities in an athlete.
? Women who smoke have a tougher time getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby. Cigarettes have been linked to fertility problems. (Smoking during pregnancy raises the odds of having a miscarriage, premature birth, or delivering a low-birth-weight infant.)
? Smokers reach menopause 1 1/2 years earlier than women who don't smoke.
? Smokers are six times more likely to get oral cancer. (The most common symptoms include a sore patch on the tongue, lips, gums, or other area inside the mouth that doesn't go away and may be painful.)
? Causes lung cancer. (Makes people more vulnerable to breathing problems and dangerous infections like pneumonia.)
? You get cigarette stench. (The pervasive smell of cigarettes will stay on your breath and in your hair and clothes.)
Quitting smoking can improve your appearance. As blood flow gets better, your skin receives more oxygen and nutrients. This can help you develop a healthier complexion. If you stay tobacco-free, the stains on your fingers and nails will disappear. You may even notice your teeth getting whiter, and this will do a lot of good things to your body.