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Extra Wrinkles a Bad Sign for Smokers

Posted: June 14, 2006
British scientists have discovered a tantalizing new wrinkle in our understanding of smoking's unhealthy effects.

Middle-aged smokers whose faces were heavily wrinkled were five times as likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than smokers whose faces were relatively smooth, the study found.

The authors speculated that both COPD and wrinkling may be linked by a common mechanism and that facial wrinkling might indicate susceptibility to the potentially deadly lung disease.

It's unclear, however, what kind of clinical relevance the findings hold.

"It's certainly biologically plausible," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. "This may be of use in educating patients but, in terms of detection of lung disease, we [already] have a simple breathing test. We don't have to look for wrinkles."