Photographic evidence suggests that smoking accelerates aging

Sombit Mishra

Case Western twin study suggests smoking accelerates agingCase Western researchers just published a new study of identical twins showing that those who smoked at least 5 years longer than their twin showed visual signs of accelerated aging.

"Results: Smoking twins compared with their nonsmoking counterparts had worse scores for upper eyelid skin redundancy, lower lid bags, malar bags, nasolabial folds, upper lip wrinkles, lower lip vermillion wrinkles, and jowls. Lower lid hyperpigmentation in the smoking group fell just short of statistical significance. Transverse forehead wrinkles, glabellar wrinkles, crow’s feet, and lower lip lines accentuated by puckering did not have a statistically significant differences in scores. Among twins with greater than 5 years’ difference in smoking duration, twins who had smoked longer had worse scores for lower lid bags, malar bags, and lower lip vermillion wrinkles."

Based on these findings, and given that the subjects were identical twins, it would be interesting to see further research evaluating interventions that introduce visual cues to promote smoking cessation.  One such study could utilize smart mirrors to artificially age a viewer.  If the viewer smokes more, the mirror would add more wrinkles to her face; if she were to reduce smoking, the mirror would respond more favorably.  

In the connected health industry, there has been a long-standing discussion about whether passive feedback in the environment--so-called ambient feedback--can catalyze sustained behavior change. The truth is, the verdict is still out on this.  That said, it seems logical that the more seamlessly feedback is integrated into the environment, the more likely the user is to respond/adhere to the feedback.  No easy task, but definitely worth more R&D.