Heavy Drinking and Smoking are linked to Physical Aging


According to the research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, heavy drinking and smoking are linked to visible signs of physical aging. Light-moderate drinking not associated with looking older than one's years.

The early findings showed that neither light-moderate drinking was linked to biological aging nor slowing of the visible aging process, as there was no difference in the prevalence of the signs of aging amongst light-moderate drinkers and non-drinkers.

For the study, the researchers used the data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study. About 11,500 adults, whose heart health and visible aging signs were tracked for an average of 11.5 years, were considered. The study participants were questioned about their lifestyle and general health as well as the amount of drinking and smoking.

Further, they were analyzed for the four signs of aging which included earlobe creases, arcus corneae (greyish opaque colored ring around the peripheral cornea of both eyes), xanthelasmata (yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids) and male pattern baldness. Previously these signs were linked to heightened risk of cardiovascular ill health and/or death.

The average age of the participants was 51 (women: age 21-86 years and men: age21 to 93). The average alcohol consumption in women was 2.6 drinks/week and in men was 11.4 drinks/week, while 57% women and 67% were current smokers.

The prevalence of Arcus corneae was 60% (men >70 years and women >80 years), xanthelasmata was 5% (men and women over 50 years), and receding hairline was common among men (80% of over the age 40 years).

On analyzing the smoking and drinking patterns of the participants, researchers found that the risk of looking aged and developing earlobe creases, arcus corneae, and xanthelasmata was prominent.

The occurrence of visible signs of aging among light-moderate drinkers and non-drinkers was the same. There was no significant link amongst male pattern baldness and heavy drinking or smoking, and this may be because it is strongly influenced by genes and circulating levels androgen. Thus, there were no firm conclusions drawn from the study.

The current research is the first prospective study to reveal that alcohol and smoking are associated with the development of visible age-related signs. The individuals looked older than one’s actual age, which reflects that heavy drinking and smoking increases general aging of the body.