We all know that there are many health risks associated with heavy drinking. Alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis, cancers of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, stomach, liver, colon, rectum, and breast, gastrointestinal problems, immune system problems, heart disease – the list is practically endless. If all of those possible conditions aren’t enough to convince you to cut back on your drinking, here’s another one: your looks. New research suggests that there is a link between heavy alcohol use and visible signs of aging.
In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, scientists from the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense focused on the connection between drinking and noticeable signs of aging. Because premature aging can be a sign of poor health, they thought there might be a connection between alcohol-related health problems and a person’s appearance. They focused on four signs of aging: male pattern baldness, earlobe creases, arcus corneae, and xanthelasmata.
Male pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia, refers to hair loss beginning at the temples and receding from there. A creased earlobe will have a fold, straight line, or wrinkle that appears to cut it in half. Creased earlobes can be signs of coronary artery disease and indicate that an individual is at risk for a stroke. Arcus corneae, also known as corneal arcus, is a gray or white ring visible above and below the outer part of the cornea (the transparent, outermost part of the eye). Xanthelasma are yellowish, fatty deposits that form near the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids. They are usually associated with high cholesterol.
Researchers studied these four signs in more than 11,600 adults whose drinking habits, smoking habits, and other lifestyle factors had been monitored by the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which was begun in 1976 to learn about prevention of heart disease and stroke. The scientists randomly chose young Danish people who were over the age of 20 when the study began. The average age of the participants was 51. The women consumed an average of 2.6 drinks per week, and men consumed 11.4. Fifty-seven percent of the women and 67 percent of the men were also smokers.
They found that heavy alcohol use was associated with the risk of developing arcus corneae and earlobe crease. Women who consumed 28 or more drinks per week had a 33 percent higher risk of arcus corneae, and men who had more than 35 drinks per week were 35 percent more likely to have the sign. Male pattern baldness and xanthelasmata didn’t appear to be affecting by drinking.
They also found that people who either don’t drink or drink lightly or moderately are not at an increased risk for developing these signs of aging. According to the CDC, moderate drinking is considered up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.