January 13, 1997 in Nation/World

Smoking Makes You ‘Wrinkled, Haggard’ Study Of Identical Twins Shows Cigarettes Thin Skin, Age Users

From Wire Reports
 

Smoking brings on skin wrinkles more quickly and generally hastens the aging process, according to a study released Sunday.

Britain’s state-funded Health Education Authority said it hoped the study - based on observations of identical twins - will sway young smokers, the group most likely to ignore warnings about lung cancer and other health risks.

“It’s always been known from observation that smoking makes you age more quickly, but this has never been demonstrated in much scientific detail before,” said Dr. Tim Spector, head of the twin research unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital.

The hospital - studying more than 1,000 sets of twins - found 50 sets comprising a non-smoker and a life-long smoker, Spector said.

On average, the smoking twin had skin 25 percent thinner than the non-smoker.

Wrinkles occur as the skin thins. Identical twins, who have the same genes, would age at the same rate unless affected by external factors.

Smoking may cause the release of an enzyme that breaks down skin elasticity or may restrict the blood supply to the skin, the study says.

“Doctors say they can recognize smokers’ faces because they look more wrinkled and haggard,” Spector said.

But those who go cold turkey shouldn’t overdo the Wild Turkey, according to a study released today.

The study indicates the benefits of alcohol evaporate at more than half a drink a day, refining earlier findings that moderate alcohol consumption by men is good for the heart.

For healthy men, one drink every other day is better than none, the study shows, but more than two drinks a day substantially increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and other fatal illnesses.

The study, led by Dr. Carlos A. Camargo Jr. of Brigham & Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals, appears in today’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, published by the American Medical Association.

At anything over one to two drinks a day, alcohol consumption quickly begins to have a negative effect on health, and Camargo’s team found “a sharp, significant increase in cancer deaths” from consumption of “2 or more drinks a day.”

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