New findings of a study that followed more than 11500 people over 40 years discovered that heavy drinking and smoking can make you look visibly older far sooner than expected.
The Danish researchers from the National Institute of health in Copenhagen, Denmark chose four signs of aging that have been linked to some of the most common alcohol and tobacco-related diseases, with increased risks of heart disease and even death.
These signs of aging are:
1. Corneal arcus
Corneal arcus describes grey rings or arcs around the cornea. They are partly genetic. In people under 40, they are sometimes early indicators of artery disease.
2. Male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness is more common in younger men with unhealthy habits, and has been linked to an elevated risk of heart disease.
These yellow-orange skin tags or ‘plaques’ are caused by cholesterol that has collected just beneath the thin skin of the eyelids, and may indicate high overall cholesterol levels.
4. Earlobe folds/crease
Though no causal relationship has been established, people with earlobe creases or folds are statistically more likely to develop heart disease, according to research.
The long-running study began in 1976 and followed a group of more than 11,500 people.
The study revealed that “the risk of developing arcus corneae, earlobe crease, and xanthelasmata increased stepwise with increased smoking.”
“For alcohol consumption, a high intake was associated with the risk of developing arcus corneae and earlobe crease, but not xanthelasmata,” the authors add.
More specifically, a total of 28 or more drinks per week correlated with a 33 percent higher risk of arcus corneae in women. Men who had more than 35 drinks per week were 35 percent more likely to display the sign.
Smoking one pack of cigarettes every day for 15 to 30 years put women at a 41 percent higher risk of having the corneal condition, and men at a 12 percent higher risk.
A comparison between those who do not drink and those who drink lightly to moderately revealed no difference in terms of visible signs of aging.
Additionally, male pattern baldness did not seem to be influenced by drinking and smoking.
But, ‘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,’ the authors wrote.
‘This may reflect that heavy drinking and smoking increases general ageing of the body.’
The research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Also Read: Consequences of Binge Drinking