Smokers' skin appears to age faster, study of twins shows
Published: Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, 5:36 p.m.
NEW YORK — Smokers are likely to get bags under their eyes and wrinkles around their lips earlier than nonsmokers, according to a study of identical twins.
Judges who didn't know which twin smoked said the smoker looked older 57 percent of the time. That pattern held when both twins were smokers but one had smoked for many years longer than the other.
“Smoking makes you look old. That's all there is to it,” Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi said.
“Besides lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes, just one more good reason to stop smoking is that it's definitely making you look a lot older,” she said.
Tanzi is a dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and George Washington University Medical Center. She was not involved in the study but said it confirms what she and others see in practice.
The findings are based on standardized photos of 79 pairs of identical twins taken at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Dr. Bahman Guyuron of Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and his colleagues showed the photos to three trained judges, then asked them to grade each person's wrinkles and age-related facial features.
The twins were in their late 40s, on average. About three-quarters of them were women.
Forty-five sets of twins included one smoker and one nonsmoker. Smokers tended to have more wrinkles and other signs of face aging. But the differences were often small.
For instance, on a zero-to-3 scale, where zero means no wrinkles and 3 is severe wrinkles, upper eyelids were rated at 1.56 among smokers and 1.51 among nonsmokers. Jowls were rated at 1.0 among smokers and 0.93 among nonsmokers, on average.
There was no difference in assessments of crow's feet or forehead wrinkles based on smoking.
Other factors related to skin aging, including sunscreen use, alcohol drinking and stress at work, were similar among smoking and nonsmoking twins, the researchers noted.
Of the remaining 34 twin pairs, one had smoked for an average of 13 years longer than the other.
Twins who had smoked for more years had more pronounced bags under their eyes and more wrinkles around their lower lips, according to findings published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
“It really just kind of confirms a lot of stuff that most people believed,” Dr. Alan Boyd said. He is a dermatologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and wasn't part of the study team.
Still, he said, the study adds a layer of evidence by putting numbers on the effect of smoking on different parts of the face.
Facial creams and plastic surgery are options for people whose skin has been damaged by smoking, Guyuron said. But he said the goal of releasing the findings is to give people another reason never to start.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Android systems running 4.1.1 softward carry Heartbleed bug
- Authorities say they have trove of evidence against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston Marathon bombing
- Country Music Museum links old, new
- Social Security drops debts older than 10 years
- Study says regular pot use affects the brain
- Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
- Denver wife killed 12 minutes into 911 call, sparking inquiry
- National Portrait Gallery features abstract expressionism of familiar faces
- Imam’s influence detailed as NYC terror trial begins
- Deal reached in Ukraine crisis talks, but U.S. remains wary of Russia’s end game