There’s a warning label on every cigarette pack for a reason because smoking just one cigarette is already dangerous to your health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you put every organ in your body at a health risk whenever you smoke.
The habit is responsible for at least in one in five deaths every year in the U.S. alone. There are over 600 ingredients in one cigarette that can generate thousands of chemicals when it’s lit. Most of these chemicals are poisonous, while 69 have been linked to cancer, according to the American Lung Association.
The first signs of the drawbacks of smoking registers in your appearance. Here are some ways smoking makes your body age faster.
Here Are 13 Ways Smoking Makes You Age Faster
“Smoking ages you quicker than almost anything else.” – Polly Bergen
1. You’ll have dark circles, eye bags, and poor vision
The harmful fumes from tobacco can impact collagen production in your body. Thus, the aging process speeds up when you smoke so you’re prone to develop wrinkles and lines faster.
- Your skin becomes dehydrated with poor collagen production.
- Eventually, this leads to eye bags formation that won’t make you look appealing and positive.
- Additionally, smokers generally have poor quality sleep so they experience nicotine withdrawal at night, according to a study from the American College of Chest Physicians.
- This leads to dark circles and the worsening of the appearance of eye bags.
As for poor vision, smoking raises the risk of macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. The cells around the eyes gradually break down due to toxins from the nicotine. Thus, vision problems develop and you might face problems with cataracts even if you’re young.
2. Your teeth will turn yellow and your breath will smell bad
Smoking can contribute to dental problems. Nicotine can cause the teeth to turn yellow, brown, or black and you might have already seen the changes in your mouth whenever you smile. You’ll also develop bad breath and notice that your mouth smells like an ashtray. This happens because smoking dries your mouth.
- It’s not just your smile’s appearance or the smell of your breath that you should be worried about. Nicotine can also raise your risk of developing tooth inflammation, periodontal disease, and oral cancer.
- The chemicals of the cigarettes can also weaken the structure of the bones around your teeth, which can lead to tooth loss.
3. You develop psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that can worsen with cigarette smoke. Though this chronic skin condition isn’t life-threatening, the red scaly patches are itchy and uncomfortable. It can also affect your appearance because blotchy and blemished skin might look embarrassing.
Experts say that nicotine alters the functions of your body’s immune system, which, in turn, affects skin cell growth. Nicotine also leads to oxidative damage in the cells, which worsens the symptoms of this condition.
4. You’ll have dull-looking skin
Your skin will look a lot duller, pasty, and dry thus you’ll appear a lot older because of smoking. This happens because the nicotine has stunted the circulation of oxygen and nutrients in your system. Therefore, your skin cells can’t do what they’re supposed to do.
- Aside from diminishing your skin’s youthful appearance and natural glow, smoking can also break down the collagen and elastin.
- This contributes to sagging skin and the appearance of wrinkles and lines.
- The truth is, no amount of moisturizers can brighten and clear your skin condition unless you kick the habit.
5. You’ll have age spots
Age spots are black, brown, or gray blotches on the skin that usually develop due to sun exposure or aging. But smokers may also have this skin condition because of the deprivation of nutrients.
Though there’s nothing dangerous about age spots, some people seek treatment because it affects their appearance. The pigmentation, coupled with skin dryness and eye bags, can make you look older than your age.
6. Your fingernails will turn yellow
There are two ways smoking can turn your fingernails yellow. First, when you’re holding a cigarette, your fingernails come in contact with tar and nicotine. Second, the chemicals from the tobacco can block the oxygen that should reach your fingers and toes and nourish the cells.
You can change the appearance of your fingers by regularly buffering and soaking it in lemon juice. However, your fingers will still not be healthy enough if you continue to smoke. The healthy growth of nails will be slower.
7. Your hair will thin out, fall off, and turn gray sooner than expected
Nicotine will also damage the composition of your hair follicles in the same way that it damages your skin’s health. As a result, your hair will thin out, fall off, and become gray so you’ll look a lot older.
- Reports revealed that smoking has been tied to balding in men and thinning hair in women.
- Aside from this, your hair could also grow brittle and dry because it doesn’t get sufficient nutrients.
- Smoking may also make your hair smell.
- All these changes won’t really flatter your looks so it’s best to quit the habit sooner than later.
8. You’ll have warts in your genitals
Genital warts are sexually transmitted via the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, your risk factors for HPV infection are higher if you’re a smoker with an active intimate lifestyle, as per a study in the National Institutes of Health.
What’s more, you also raise your risk for developing warts that are often associated with cancer.
- If you’re a woman smoker, you’ll weaken your defenses against cervical infections at least four times more than women who do not smoke.
- Researchers have discovered that there are tobacco by-products in the cervical mucus of ladies who smoke.
- The DNA composition in cerival cells is also altered because of the chemicals in the nicotine.
9. You’ll have stretch marks
Stretch marks generally appear after a rapid weight gain or loss. These red lines that gradually turn to gray stripes on your skin can look really bad. But you could also have stretch marks even if there are no changes to your weight when you’re a smoker.
This happens because your skin loses its elasticity and strength as a result of the damage nicotine brings to the tissues and fibers. The stretch marks will be most prominent on your hips and thighs, where the skin is not taut and strong.
10. You’ll have belly fat
Smoking can suppress your appetite and affect your sense of taste since a lot of food may taste bland due to the nicotine. It could be why most smokers have a lower body weight compared to people who don’t smoke. However, many smokers still have visceral fat or belly fat. This does not just give you the “dad bod” or “mom bod” but it’s also an indicator for many serious diseases.
- According to experts, a smoker’s body tends to push most of the fat that’s eaten onto the belly area.
- Your belly will absorb the weight you gain as a smoker, which could lead to heart problems, diabetes, and other illnesses.
- Fat in the abdomen is close to a lot of vital internal organs.
- This means that the cells around your belly are stuffed with triglycerides that can impair the functions of your heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and other organs.
- Hence, you develop high blood pressure, high blood sugar, impaired regulation of insulin, and cholesterol when you have belly fat.
11. You’ll have more visible scars and your wounds will not heal quickly
Nicotine leads to vasoconstriction. It’s when your blood vessels become too narrow thus limiting the distribution of proper nutrients around your body. It results in what experts call tissue ischemia or the impairment of healing of skin tissue when you’re wounded.
So, it will take a lot longer for your scars to heal, whether they were the result of an infection, a trauma, or a surgical procedure. Your scars will also appear bigger and redder compared to non-smokers. This makes it more challenging for smokers who might require reconstructive or plastic surgery because the healing process after the procedure may be more complicated.
12. Your breasts and arms will sag
As already mentioned, cigarette smoke contains carcinogens that can lead to the breakdown of the skin’s collagen and elastin levels.
- Even the skin supporting a woman’s breasts and arms can lose its elasticity.
- As a result, you could develop sagging breasts and arms that can look unappealing.
- While this is a natural part of aging, you’ll speed up the process of sagging because of your smoking habit.
Further, a collaborative study from the experts at Dartmouth, Harvard, and University of Wisconsin showed that women smokers who have breast cancer are more likely to have a shorter lifespan. The findings, therefore, should be enough to motivate you to quit smoking.
13. You’re at risk for skin cancer
Smoking has ties to lung and heart disease but did you know that it can also raise your risk for skin cancer? As the carcinogens from the cigarettes lead to premature skin aging, psoriasis, weakened skin and impaired wound healing, it also accelerates the normal aging process of your cells. This makes you susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is the second most common skin cancer type.
The problem with SCC is that this can quickly spread to other tissues and bones compared to other forms of skin cancer. It’s vital, therefore for SCC to be caught and treated early, and for you to stop smoking as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts On Different Ways Smoking Makes You Age Faster
All these harmful effects of smoking that can speed up the aging of your body can be reversed as soon as you quit the habit. The changes will be both immediate and gradual but you’re guaranteed to gain positive results the sooner you give up this vice.
Besides, you likely know that you have to quit smoking as soon as you’ve had that first puff. There’s no doctor or study in the world that can advocate for this bad habit because nicotine addiction is seriously detrimental to your health.