How does smoking increase aging?

Smoking ages you in many ways. It causes more wrinkles, which makes you look older. But more importantly, it damages (ages) your lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and almost every other organ in your body.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, limited but consistent data suggest that women smokers have more facial wrinkling than do nonsmokers. Smokers tend to have paler skin and more wrinkles because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers levels of vitamin A. In addition, the respiratory and vascular diseases that smoking causes can contribute to making smokers appear older than their actual age.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
It definitely makes you look five to 10 years older. It especially makes your skin more wrinkled, darker and you definitely can tell the difference in a person that smokes versus one that didn't. You also see changes in your teeth, hands and nails.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The moment you take a drag on a cigarette you are beginning to shave years off your life. The longer you smoke, the more severely cigarettes age you. When you smoke, you increase your risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, lung disease, eye disease, bone disease and cancer of almost every organ. And you probably also look older too.

Smoking causes prominent crow's feet, deep creases, and smoker's lines around the mouth. Tobacco smoke compromises the production of collagen, elastin and skin proteins that make skin strong and elastic. Without the support of these skin components, the skin degrades faster and more severely. Tobacco smoke also produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) that accelerates skin aging. Nicotine may also be involved in premature smoking-related aging because it constricts blood vessels, blocking nutrients from reaching skin cells, which in turn wither and die. And speaking of dying? Smokers die on average 10 to 14 years before nonsmokers. And death is pretty much the most extreme form of premature aging there is.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Even the tobacco companies now admit that smoking is deadly. It's widely known that smoking is bad for your health, and that it causes cancer and lung disease. However, that is not the most important aging effect of cigarettes. We all know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but we can't predict which smokers will get it and which will not. However, what is predictable from cigarettes is aging of the arteries. Every smoker will get it. Aging of the arteries inevitably causes wrinkling of the skin, impotence, and decay in the quality of orgasm, as well as heart disease, stroke, and memory loss. Whether they travel to your reproductive organs, skin, or heart, bad arteries cause the same problem throughout the body. Smoking can be blamed for nearly half of all premature deaths each year, more than four hundred thousand. Smoking remains the greatest public health hazard we face.

Even if it doesn't kill you, smoking will make you older. A lot older. The effects don't show up thirty years down the line but right now, today. You'll see new wrinkles in your face.

Smoking cigarettes ages the skin prematurely -- it does that by two mechanisms -- first and foremost, it ages your arteries. And second, it decreases the ability of your lung to provide oxygen to your blood. By these two mechanisms smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that gets to your skin cells, causing them to age faster than they should. It also causes shortness of breath that results from emphysema. The lack of oxygen further ages your lungs by causing inability of your immune system and lung protective systems to work normally, leading to a high incidence of respiratory illnesses, plus a loss of stamina and energy. This is one way that smoking clogs your arteries with inflammation that can lead to high blood pressure that further ages your arteries -- it is a nasty positive feedback loop to make you older by making you more vulnerable to infections and making your blood pressure higher.

For the American population as a whole, smoking makes us more than 250 million years older than we need to be. If you're a smoker and have a pack-a-day habit, consider yourself eight years older. Think you're forty? Try forty-eight on for size. Think you're fifty? More like fifty-eight. Even if you smoke just four cigarettes a day, which is barely any at all, your RealAge is 2.6 years older.
The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

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The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.