1. With the help of Dr. Hays, director of the Nicotine Dependence Center at Mayo Clinic, and a makeup artist, BuzzFeed aged three smokers to show the physical effects of a continued smoking habit.
- This is a broad estimation of how a regular smoker would physically age over the course of 20 to 30 years. Individual experiences will vary.
Michael was the most frequent smoker out of the three volunteers, smoking about two packs a day. “It’s something that I want to quit eventually, but it’s a lot easier said than done,” said Michael.
Meredith typically smokes three or four cigarettes a day, but more frequently when she’s drinking. “I’ve quit a few times, a couple weeks tops, but I just end up buying a pack again,” said Meredith.
Edd smokes on a fairly infrequent basis, usually only in social situations, so about a pack a month. “I hope to get scared out of smoking cigarettes anymore and finally be able to quit,” said Edd when asked what he hoped to get from this experience.
In order to show the long-term effects of smoking, the makeup artist aged the volunteers based on the most common physical changes that happen to smokers.
8. “The skin is more affected because of exposure to the smoke. It causes excessive wrinkles around the mouth and creases between the nose and the mouth,” said Hays.
9. “There’s also a loss of underlying tissue. So, the face becomes more saggy or more deeply wrinkled,” said Hays.
10. “You also get higher risk of periodontal disease, and tooth loss,” said Hays.
12. Michael’s full transformation:
Since Michael smokes the most frequently out of the three volunteers, his transformation showed the full effects smoking can have on the aging process. He has deep wrinkles and lines around the mouth — a common effect of smoking. His teeth were also made yellow, which indicates the higher risk of periodontal disease that comes with smoking.
14. Meredith’s full transformation:
Meredith smoked three to five cigarettes a day, so her transformation was less drastic than Michael’s but a bit more drastic than Edd’s. The deep wrinkles around the mouth show how the skin ages when it is exposed to smoke for extended periods of time.
16. Edd’s full transformation:
Edd smoked the least out of the three volunteers, so the lines around his mouth and eyes were less excessive than the others. His teeth were also not yellowed as much.
19. Meredith worried that the physical effects only scratched the surface of the damage she was doing to her body.
20. And according to Hays, “The most important things are what happens to the organs internally.”
“The most common conditions that occur are chronic lung disease, emphysema, pulmonary disease (now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.). Secondly, cardiovascular disease. So, heart attacks and strokes are more common in smokers than non-smokers. And then of course cancer. Especially cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs,” said Hays.
21. Michael couldn’t help but be bummed out by the experience.
22. And Edd felt inspired to make a life change.
23. Though the exact physical effects can’t be measured, the internal effects can be: “Regular smokers probably add 10-20 years to their lung age. So, when they’re 60 they will have the lungs of an 80-year-old,” said Dr. Hays.
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