Q: Does alcohol make you look younger?
A: No, it doesn't. In fact, alcohol dehydrates the skin and increases the leakiness of capillaries, so more water moves from the bloodstream into soft tissues. Combined with a horizontal position during sleep, this results in facial puffiness, stretched skin and faster wrinkle formation.
And while we're knocking vices, cigarettes not only damage your arteries, thus contributing to the formation of wrinkles, they're also responsible for vertical lines above the lips. That's partly because cigarettes deplete levels of nitric oxide gas from the inner lining cells of your small arteries (large ones, too). That short-lived gas helps gives skin some of its flexibility. Cigarettes and saturated fat take away the skin's flexibility and contribute to wrinkles. Combine that with decades of puckering your lips around those cancer sticks and you've got prune lips.
After you quit, you often look younger as the nitric oxide returns and the vertical lines decrease—that is, if you quit early enough to still have some nitric oxide-making cells left.
Michael F. Roizen, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology, Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. He has co-founded 12 companies, including the popular websites RealAge.com and YOUBeauty.com.
Mehmet C. Oz, MD, is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His TV show—The Dr. Oz Show— recently won its third Emmy, with Dr. Oz his second as the best daytime talk show host.
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