Heavy smoking can make you look older: Study

PTI, Nov 1, 2019, 3:50 PM IST

London: Heavy tobacco smoking may give you a “Smoker’s Face” — a condition where people look older than they are, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK noted that some people carry one or two copies of a genetic variant linked with heavier tobacco use.

To identify the effects of heavy smoking, scientists can separate out the effects of the genetic variant through tobacco use from other possible effects associated with carrying that variant that are unrelated to tobacco use.

To simultaneously identify these two types of effects the study, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, used a novel combination of two data analysis approaches and applied them using data from people in the UK Biobank.

The researchers separated people into two groups. The first contained people who had never smoked, and the second included current and former smokers.

They reasoned that the smoking group would reveal the effects of tobacco exposure, while the never-smokers would show them any unrelated effects of the genetic variant.

The analysis searched across 18,000 traits and apart from finding more rapid facial ageing, also identified several previously reported effects of smoking, confirming the method’s effectiveness, the researchers said.

The known effects of smoking that the analysis identified included worse lung function, and higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and skin cancer, they said.

“We proposed a novel approach that can be used to search for causal effects of health exposures, and demonstrated this approach to search for the effects of smoking heaviness,” study author Louise Millard said in a statement.

“We searched across thousands of traits to identify those that may be affected by how heavily someone smokes,” Millard said.

As well as identifying several known adverse effects such as on lung health, the researchers also found an adverse effect of heavier smoking on facial ageing.

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