Excessive tobacco smoking may lead to facial aging

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A new report, released in PLOS Genetics, found heavy smoking may lead to facial aging, as part of a condition known as Smoker’s face.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol, set out to identify the effects of heavy tobacco use by dividing the effects of a genetic variant linked to smoking.

Researchers gathered a number of participants from the UK Biobank and split them into two groups. In the first group were participants with no history of smoking, while the second group contained participants with a past history of smoking and current smokers.

“In this study, we searched for the presence of causal effects of smoking heaviness, using the PHESANT software package to perform a GxE MR-pheWAS, by estimating the association of genetic variant rs16969968 with each outcome while restricting to ever and never smokers, respectively,” according to the findings. “We used two approaches to identify potential causal effects of smoking heaviness from our PHESANT results.”

“Our main approach–the GxE MR-pheWAS–ranked results by the strength of interaction between ever and never smokers. This approach is commensurate with our aims, as a genetic variant that affects an outcome (at least in part) through smoking heaviness will exhibit a different effect size on this outcome, among ever and never smokers, respectively.”

“Our secondary approach ranked results based on the strength of the effect of rs16969968 among ever smokers and identifies causal effects under the assumption that the combined effect through smoking heaviness and any horizontal pleiotropic effect is not null.”

Based on the results, it was concluded that heavy smoking led to a detrimental effect on facial aging, which heightened the severity of nasolabial folds, oral commissures, perioral lines, glabellar lines, forehead and crow’s feet. In addition, during the analysis of 18,000 traits, researchers determined that smoking resulted in worsening lung function, skin cancer, and an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Our results confirmed several established or previously reported causal effects of smoking heaviness,” the findings state. “Our study of smoking heaviness serves as a model for future studies seeking to search for the causal effects of an exposure using GxE MR-pheWAS.”