Want to Look Good?
Ten Ugly Reasons to Quit Smoking.
If you smoke, you’re not surprised by the news that smoking is terrible for your insides. Heart, lungs, nervous system and brain, sex drive—all are damaged by nicotine. You know all that, but knowing it may not be enough to make you want to quit.
But suppose smoking damaged you on the outside, where you and everyone else could see…
Well, if you keep smoking, it does. Here’s an ugly “short list” of the ways tobacco gradually, inevitably wrecks your looks.
Dark bags and circles under your eyes
You sleep poorly, and the way you feel is bad enough—and then you get a look at yourself in the mirror, and that’s worse.
If that happens often, you can probably blame your smoking habit: smokers are 4 times more likely to report they don’t feel rested after a night’s sleep, says a study conducted by Johns Hopkins. It may be that smokers have a mini-nicotine withdrawal every night, resulting in disturbed sleep. Hence the dragged out feeling in the morning, and those weary, baggy eyes looking back at you.
No regular smoker will have a gorgeous white smile for long: nicotine permanently stains tooth enamel.
Of course, you can go the professioal cleaning route—if you’ve got the money left over after you’ve bought your ever-more-expensive cigarettes. The average pro tooth cleaning costs between $500 and $1,000.
Early skin aging
Wrinkles are fine on older folks. They’re signs of well-earned life experience. On a younger smoker, it’s a different story.
And younger smokers can count on getting them, because smoking makes skin age faster than normal. On average, by constricting the blood supply to your skin, the habit adds between 1 and 2 years worth of “old” to your face, beyond your chronological age.
Thinning, graying hair
To go with the premature wrinkles, smokers can look forward to prematurely aging hair. It will get thinner sooner than for non-smokers, and go gray sooner too. Apparently the toxins in smoke affect the hair follicles’ DNA, and form free radicals that cause cellular damage.
Particularly in men, the thinning tends to proceed to baldness. A study in Taiwan in 2007 found that, after discounting other baldness-factors like age and heredity, male smokers are twice as likely to lose their hair compared to nonsmoking men.
Few of us can expect to get through life without at least a few dings and abrasions. But if you’re a smoker, don’t be surprised if your wounds take longer to heal than your non-smoking friends. And when they do heal, you’re likely to be stuck with a larger, redder scar than they’d have from a comparable mishap.
It’s the fault of vasoconstriction—the effect that nicotine has on the blood vessels, narrowing them so that the oxygenated blood needed for healing can’t get to the injured area.
Stained teeth are one thing—but losing them altogether is something else. Smoking gives you the increased likelihood of both. Tobacco lines you up for quite a few dental problems, mouth cancer and gum disease among them.
In 2005, a study in Britain published by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology revealed that tobacco use causes a sixfold increase in the risk of gum disease, leading to tooth loss.
Dull, discolored skin
“Smoker’s Face”. That’s the short, unsweet term a 1985 study used for the facial appearance that shows up again and again in smokers: premature wrinkles, general gauntness, and a dull, gray cast to the skin.
It’s really not surprising when you consider that every drag on a cigarette injects both nicotine and carbon monoxide into the bloodstream.
The monoxide displaces oxygen in the skin cells. The nicotine shrinks the delicate blood vessels, starving the cells of moisture and nutrients, including vitamin C. Result: dry, gray, lifeless looking skin.
Smoking makes you more vulnerable to human papillomaviruses, the group of viruses that cause warts. And that includes the genital variety.
Genital wart-causing viruses are transmitted by sexual contact, but for reasons that aren’t yet understood, smoking creates a much greater risk of being infected. A study of sexually active women found that those who smoke are almost four times more likely to be infected than nonsmokers.
Smoking causes cancer. Cancers of the lungs, the throat, the mouth, the esophagus, and more. And also of the skin.
If you smoke, your risk of getting squamous cell carcinoma, one of the commonest kinds of skin cancer, is three times that of a non-smoker, according to a 2001 study.
We’ve all heard that cigarettes depress appetite, and smokers often say they’re afraid that quitting will make them gain weight. It’s true that tobacco users often weigh less than nonsmokers of comparable build and lifestyle. But it turns out that smokers have more visceral fat than non-mokers, according to research done in Holland in 2009.
Visceral fat accumulates in deep pads around the internal organs, enlarging the body’s midsection. This not only contributes to an unattractive “no-waist” look, but increases the likelihood of serious disease, including diabetes.
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