Feb 19, 2016
If you ever happen to watch a movie or a TV show from the 1960s or 70s, you may notice that everyone looks surprisingly old for their age. Someone hardly into their 30s or 40s may appear 10-20 years older, and someone who’s actively old enough to start receiving Social Security checks may have more wrinkles than a 90-year-old living today. By contrast, a remarkable number of actors and celebrities appear hardly a day older than they did a decade ago or more.
There are likely a wide variety of factors that are responsible for this change, such as how we’re leading longer, healthier lives now thanks to modern medicine, diets, and exercise, and the fact that we haven’t had to live through times that were nearly as harsh as the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and World War II. However, one of the biggest factors is the fact that tobacco smoking has gone way downhill in the past half century.
Tobacco smoking was at its peak in the United States in the decades following World War II. A pack of cigarettes was a part of every GI’s standard kit, and although nicotine doesn’t hit hard, it does manage to relieve a little stress, plus cigarettes are deviously good at getting people hooked on the habit. Practically everyone was smoking in the 1950s, and as a result nearly everyone looked unusually old.
The reason for this goes straight to the nicotine: nicotine has the ability to constrict the capillaries in your skin, particularly those in your face, and without that regular blood flow your living skin cells will start to wither and die prematurely. Over 4000 other chemicals in cigarettes also contribute by breaking down collagen and accelerating the development of wrinkles.
Thus, while it may not always be easy to find the most effective combination of food, exercise, and anti-aging topical creams and medications, quitting smoking is a surprisingly effective way to halt age in its tracks. And while it’s often very hard to quit an addiction like nicotine, you should consider your apparent age to be yet another good reason to get clean and stay clean.