Cigarette smoke accelerates ageing, Austrian report reveals

cigarette-666937_960_720By Zakwan Zainal Abidin

Cigarettes smoke can accelerate the aging process in smokers according to a report by researchers at the Innsbruck Medical University, Austria.

Researchers say smoking reduces lifespan by an average of seven years, and tobacco consumption accounts for a shortening of disease-free life by 14 years. Cigarette smoke contains up to 4000 hazardous chemicals, which are generated during the combustion of tobacco contained in the cigarette.

Researchers conducted a thorough analysis at a cellular level to determine the effects of these chemicals on the small airway epithelium, the main site of the lungs that bear the full brunt of inhaled cigarette smoke. The results indicate that the smoke significantly affects 18 ageing-related genes and drastically reduces telomere length by 14 percent compared to non-smokers.

Researchers conducted a thorough analysis at a cellular level to determine the effects of these chemicals on the small airway epithelium, the main site of the lungs that bear the full brunt of inhaled cigarette smoke. The results indicate that the smoke significantly affects 18 ageing-related genes and drastically reduces telomere length by 14 percent compared to non-smokers.

Cigarette smoke also carries nicotine, which causes the narrowing of blood vessels in the skin and restricts blood flow. This decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to the skin and hair follicles, which can lead to premature wrinkles. Nicotine is also a major cause of yellow teeth, which can make a person appear older than their age.

The high content of radicals and oxidants in cigarette smoke exacerbates the rate of oxidative damage, which modifies essential components of cells such as protein, nucleic acids, and lipids. Prolonged exposure will lead to biomolecular malfunctioning, which induces tumor development. The disruption of low-density lipoprotein by cigarette smoke can lead to defective cell signaling, which propagates the production of aged proteins.

Chemicals in cigarette smoke also contribute to the aging of the brain by causing cerebrovascular dysfunction. The deterioration of brain cells due to reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients leads to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The elevated levels of C-reactive protein due to smoking-induced inflammation increase the risk of vascular dementia.

Credit to Pixabay

Link: https://pixabay.com/en/cigarette-smoke-embers-ash-666937/

Author: Zakwan Zainal Abidin

Biomedical science researcher turned science journalist, communicator Strives to turn scientific achievements into public understanding

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