WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
March 19, 2007 -- Smoking may increase wrinkles on parts of the body other
than the face -- even on areas usually covered with clothes.
Cigarette smoking has long been linked to increased facial wrinkles. A new
study shows that that may also be true of the rest of the body.
Yolanda Helfrich, MD, and colleagues studied 82 people at the University of
Michigan at Ann Arbor's dermatology clinic.
Participants were 22-91 years old (average age: 56). Most were white; 41 had
a history of smoking.
Helfrich's team interviewed participants about smoking, sun exposure,
sunscreen use, tanning, and other lifestyle factors.
A medical photographer took pictures of each participant's upper inner
The photos were reviewed by three judges (two dermatology residents and one
medical student) who didn't know which participants were smokers.
The judges used a nine-point scale developed by Helfrich's team. A rating of
0 indicated no fine wrinkling; severe fine wrinkling yielded the maximum score
Nearly two-thirds of the participants had low wrinkle scores ranging from
0-2 points. Smokers generally had the highest scores, indicating deeper
The wrinkle risk was particularly strong for people who had smoked heavily
for many years.
"We examined nonfacial skin that was protected from the sun, and found
that the total number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day and the total years
a person has smoked were linked with the amount of skin damage a person
experienced," Helfrich says in a University of Michigan news release.
The study doesn't prove that smoking caused or worsened wrinkles. But the
results held when the researchers took other factors, including participants'
age, into account.
The study appears in the Archives of Dermatology.
SOURCES: Helfrich, Y. Archives of Dermatology, March 2007; vol 143:
pp 397-402. News release, University of Michigan. News release,
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