Speaking of New Year’s Resolutions, let your skin be another reason to quit smoking if you are considering tackling that in 2012. Skin thinning, increased aging, acne and even skin cancer can be related to smoking:
Smoking a single cigarette can cause a significant reduction in the blood supply to the skin for up to 90 minutes. It is estimated that this effect can last the large part of the entire day in a pack-a-day smoker. This is why smokers often look pale or have dull looking skin.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 toxins many of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and are taken by the blood to your skin. Facial skin in particular is susceptible to additional effects of cigarette smoke by external exposure to the smoke.
Smoking can make your skin thinner. A recent British study used ultrasound to measure inner arm skin thickness in 25 pairs of identical twins where one twin was a lifelong smoker and the other had never smoked. The smoker’s skin was a quarter thinner than that of the non-smokers and in a few cases there were differences of up to 40 per cent. Another study measured matrix metalloproteinase levels in the skin of smokers. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) break down collagen in the skin – a necessary process for collagen renewal. The problem with smoking is that the MMP level is elevated way above normal thus causing too much collagen breakdown and a net loss of collagen (this happens with sun exposure also).
Smoking can cause significant changes in facial features. In 1985, a Dr. Douglas Model added the term “smoker’s face” to the medical dictionary after conducting a study (published in the British Medical Journal) where he found he was able to identify smokers by their facial features alone. The distinctive characteristics of a smoker’s face included wrinkles, color changes, texture changes and facial structure changes (sunken cheeks) all of which tend to make people look older than their age. These changes of the so-called “smoker’s face” were present in roughly half of the smokers who had smoked for 10 years or longer, regardless of the patient’s age, social class, exposure to sunlight, and weight changes.
Increased risk of skin cancer, too?? Yes. Smokers have been shown to have an increased risk of squamous cell skin cancer thought to be related to smoking cause damage to DNA in the skin leading to cancer.
It has been my observation that acne and clogged pores is made worse by smoking and I often encourage smoking cessation as part of an acne treatment plan for a smoker. This observation has been supported by scientific studies as well.
So your skin gives even more reason to toss those cigarettes in 2012 for you or a loved one!