Heavy Drinking and Smoking can make you look Older

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According to a new research and a study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health., stop heavy drinking and smoking if you do not want to look older than your true age. This is a long-running study and it began in 1976 and since then it has added and followed by a group of more than 11,500 people in Denmark whose heart health and visible ageing signs were tracked for an average of 11.5 years as part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Ages of people range between 21 and 86, with an average age of 51.More than half of the women and two thirds of the men in the study reported that they are currently smokers. The women, on the whole, drank an average of 2.6 drinks each week, while the men drank 11.4 drinks on average in a week. Women that drank 28 or more drinks a week – four times the average number – were 33 percent more likely to develop the aging rings, while women who had 35 or more drinks a week were 35 percent more likely to develop the same trait. The smokers that lit up a pack or more each day for between 15 and 30 years were 41 percent more likely to develop the tell-tale sign of aging.

Bandura's Model

“This is the first prospective study to show that alcohol and smoking are associated with the development of visible age-related signs and thus generally looking older than one’s actual age,” said the researchers. Before each of the clinic visits, Janne Tolstrup from University of Southern Denmark and her colleagues quizzed the participants about their lifestyle and general health and asked to state how much they drank and smoked so that they could be judged on the basis of their lifestyle and health. These people were checked for four signs of ageing which can lead to heightened risk of cardiovascular ill health and/or death.

These were: earlobe creases; a greyish opaque coloured ring or arc around the peripheral cornea of both eyes (arcus corneae); yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids (xanthelasmata); and male pattern baldness (receding hairline or a bald patch on the top of the head).

Analysis of drinking and smoking patterns revealed a consistently heightened risk of looking older than one’s true age and developing arcus corneae, earlobe creases, and yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids among those who smoked and drank heavily. For example, matched with a weekly alcohol intake of up to 7 drinks, a tally of 28 or more was associated with a 33 per cent heightened risk of arcus coneae among the women, and a 35 per cent heightened risk among men who knocked back 35 or more drinks every week. Similarly, compared with not smoking, smoking one pack of 20 cigarettes daily for between 15 and 30 years was associated with a 41 per cent heightened risk among women and a 12 per cent heightened risk among men.

The occurrence of the visible signs of ageing were not so different compared to heavy or moderate smokers but there were drastic differences seen while comparing with nonsmokers. For example – Men and women who drank 28 or more drinks each week and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 15 years were far more likely to develop four physical signs of aging earlier in life than normal and for light or moderate smokers there were also signs of ageing.

Hence, this is by far the first prospective study to show that alcohol and smoking are associated with the development of visible age-related signs and thus generally looking older than one’s actual age and it should be taken seriously by all the people who smoke and drink.

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