Thursday, 24 May 2012

7 Ways Quitting Smoking Makes You Beautiful

By now, it’s abundantly clear that quitting smoking can help save your life. The facts don’t lie: 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking, and smokers are six times more likely to suffer heart attacks than nonsmokers. Every year, smoking causes almost 450,000 deaths in the United States alone. But if good health isn’t enough to entice you to quit smoking, then think about the cosmetic risks of smoking. Smoking negatively affects your skin, your eyes, and your teeth. The good news? Quitting smoking can help you look more vibrant and healthy — which is exactly how you’ll feel, too.

Brighten Your Eyes

One side effect of smoking is skin damage all over your body, and one area where you will definitely see the damage is around your eyes. “The skin under the eyes is very delicate, and smoking damages this delicate tissue,” says Pat Folan, RN, the director of the North Shore-LIJ Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, N.Y. “Quitting smoking may have restorative benefits.”

Put the Brakes on Wrinkles

Smoking can cause wrinkles all over your body, says Jenny A. Van Amburgh, PharmD, associate clinical professor at the Northeastern University Bouve College of Health Sciences in Boston. “The thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke cause a breakdown in the major structural components of the skin — elastin and collagen,” she explains. “When these components are damaged, your skin loses its firmness, elasticity, and strength.” Another side effect of smoking is premature aging of the skin from the nicotine, which causes blood vessels to narrow, decreasing blood flow to the skin and resulting in a decrease in the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to skin cells.

Perk Up Your Breasts

Smoking doesn't just cause surface wrinkles. Damage to skin cells can cause skin on certain areas of the body to sag. “The chemicals in cigarettes cause skin to sag and lose elasticity and tone, and this can cause sagging of the upper arms and breasts,” says Folan. “In addition, studies have linked breast cancer to smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.”

Reverse Tooth Staining

Not surprisingly, the tar and nicotine passing through your lips and into your lungs have a big impact on the health of your mouth as well. In fact, one of the first easily visible side effects of smoking is yellow teeth. Luckily, quitting smoking can reverse this effect. “Most changes in the mouth due to smoking are reversible, including bad breath and yellowed teeth,” says Abinash Achrekar MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “Unfortunately, oral cancers can develop that are not as easily reversible.”

Save Your Lips and Gums

Your teeth aren’t the only part of your mouth negatively impacted by smoking. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, the risks from smoking and other tobacco products can also lead to oral cancer, bad breath, discoloration of gums, tooth loss, lost sense of taste, gum recession, and mouth sores. “Smokers usually get burns on their lips or the inside of their cheeks, which can resolve when they quit. People who quit smoking will see an improvement in their breath and sense of taste,” says Van Amburgh.

Rid Your Nails of Stains

Here’s a side effect of smoking that some smokers aren’t even aware of: ugly stains on hands and fingers, particularly the fingers that hold all those cigarettes. “After you quit smoking, you will notice a line on your fingernail between the new-growth nail (non-stained) and the stained nail,” says Van Amburgh. “Eventually, the new nail will replace the stained nail. In many people, the stains on their fingers will eventually fade.”

Put a Shine on Your Hair

Even your hair will show more shine and luster, and possibly stay in place longer, when you finally get around to quitting smoking. “The 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes affect every cell in the body, including hair follicles,” says Folan. “Smoking has been associated with hair loss.” Quitting smoking makes your hair look and smell better as the lingering “ashtray” odor is gone.

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