What effects does smoking have on your body?

Smoking can lead to many issues that often aren’t physically visible. These include an increased cancer risk, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and strokes.

However, there are still some visible effects of smoking which can be seen by others. In this article, we look at some of the ways that smoking affects the body to encourage you to kick the habit and find out how to stop smoking.


What does it do to your skin?

Did you know that your skin can age prematurely by between 10 and 20 years if you’re a smoker? This occurs as smoking reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin, with the result being aging skin that looks dull and grey.

It is the nicotine in cigarettes that lead to blood vessels narrowing. This is called vasoconstriction and it limits the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches your skin. The problem of this condition will be seen if you suffer a wound, as vasoconstriction will take it longer to heal and result in scars appearing bigger and redder than those who aren’t affected by the condition.

You might’ve noticed that smokers have more wrinkles, too. This is down to the elastin and collagen that becomes deconstructed as a result of smoking due to many of the 4,000 chemicals present in tobacco. These are fibres required to give skin its strength and elasticity — lose them and sagging skin and deeper wrinkles will be the consequence, which will be seen especially around the inner arms, breasts and face.

Noticeable wrinkles on a smoker’s face are the ‘smoker’s pucker’. This is a cluster of wrinkles around the mouth due to certain muscles being overly used. Combined with a loss of elasticity to the skin, the result will be deep lines around the lips.

What does it do to your eyes?

Smokers are more likely to develop wrinkles around the eye area called crow’s feet. These develop earlier in smokers than in regular individuals due to the heat from lit cigarettes and as a result of smokers squinting to keep smoke out of their eyes.

Studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine determined that smokers are as much as four times more likely to not feel rested after a night’s sleep. This makes them more prone to bags under the eyes, too. The study, which involved the analysis of the sleep architecture of 40 smokers and a matched group of 40 non-smokers who all undertook home polysomnography, also suggested that smokers spend less time in a deep sleep than non-smokers.

“It is possible that smoking has time-dependent effects across the sleep period. Smokers commonly experience difficulty falling asleep due to the stimulating effects of nicotine. As night evolves, withdrawal from nicotine may further contribute to sleep disturbance,” said Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

What does it do to your hair?

Smoking can make your hair thinner. Hair follicles need oxygen, essential nutrients and vitamins/minerals in order to function correctly and trigger natural hair growth but, as previously discussed, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin. Follicles that aren’t functioning properly result in a disruption of the normal hair growth and loss cycle, which in turn causes hair thinning and eventually hair loss.


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