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Smoking and Skin Health

Posted: January 6th, 2019

Smoking is most commonly associated with a variety of harmful health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer; however, there are other health risks including changes to the skin. Many times these risks are not fatal but they can cause many physical changes in the appearance of the smoker. Smoking has been known to cause wrinkles and aging of the skin and can lead to skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SSC).  Motivation to quit smoking begins with awareness and education to the negative side effects of smoking.
Many scientific studies have discovered that premature aging of the skin and wrinkles are linked to smoking and the heavier the smoker, the more wrinkles a person will have. It has been reported that people who smoke moderately were nearly twice as likely to experience premature aging of the skin and wrinkles as people who do not smoke.  People who are heavy smokers were nearly three times more likely to experience premature aging of the skin and wrinkles. When sun exposure and smoking is combined, an individual’s chances of premature aging and wrinkles significantly rise. Studies have shown that smoking can decrease the flow of the blood to the skin, causing probable damage to the connective tissues that is crucial for healthy skin. If the blood flow is impaired, your skin cannot receive enough oxygen and important nutrients. Exposure to tobacco smoke can also damage the tissue that creates elastin and collagen which gives your skin its strength and elasticity.
In addition, smoking can raise the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by over 50 percent. SSC is the second most common skin cancer and there are approximately 700,000 people who are diagnosed with this particular skin cancer each year. Smoking tobacco can have harmful effects on the immune system.  People with damaged or suppressed immune systems have a higher chance of developing skin cancer.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five American adults are smokers. With increased awareness and education about the negative side effects of smoking, people have clear incentives to quit smoking. For support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669) or go to their website at