Cigarettes and alcohol rob us of our youth - study

  • 16/11/2017

New research has confirmed what many of us probably already suspected - heavy smokers and drinkers are at much greater risk of looking an age beyond their years.

Researchers tracked the health and appearance of more than 11,000 people over 11 years, as a part of the long-running Copenhagen City Heart Study.

They looked at four signs of ageing: earlobe creases, a greyish opaque coloured ring or arc around the peripheral cornea of both eyes (arcus corneae), yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids and male pattern baldness.

People who drank 28 or more standard drinks a week were 33 percent more likely to have arcus corneae, increasing to 35 percent for those who knocked back 35 drinks a week.

Smoking a pack of cigarettes daily for between 15 and 30 years made arcus corneae 41 percent more likely in women and 12 percent in men.

"A high alcohol intake also predicted the development of earlobe crease among men, but not among women," the study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, said.

As for eyelid plaque, drinkers got off scot-free but smoking marginally increased its likelihood.

The good news? Neither drinking or smoking caused male pattern baldness, and moderate drinkers - those who consumed around seven drinks a week - looked just as good as teetotallers. 

The researchers say despite it being common sense, no scientific study of alcohol and nicotine's effect visible signs of ageing had been conducted before.