Excessive drinking and smoking does visibly age us

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

In the landmark study by researchers from the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark, more than 11,000 Danes in the Copenhagen City Heart Study were looked at over a nearly 30-year period.

The participants answered questions on their eating, smoking and drinking habits, as well as undergoing medical exams to measure signs of heart disease and ageing.

For the research, the team focused on four signs of ageing; earlobe creases, grey rings or arcs around the corneas, yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids and male pattern baldness, which as well as making a person look older, have also been linked to increased risks of heart disease and even death.

It was found that excessive drinking, which is classed as more than 28 drinks a week for women, and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 15 years were more likely to develop the four physical signs of ageing.

Women had a 33 per cent higher likelihood of having grey rings around the cornea compared to women who drank fewer than seven drinks a week, and for men, the results were similar.

The likeliness of developing earlobe creases and plaques on the eyelids was also increased, though male pattern baldness was not.

“We wanted to study the signs of ageing because they seem to have some kind of predictive value for how long your life is going to be on average,” said senior author Janne Tolstrup.

“What is interesting about the results is that we can see those signs with the eye, for example, very fast, whereas for things like high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, we have to make advanced measurements to obtain them,”

The study has been published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

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