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Common Habits That Age You Faster, According to Science

Are you making yourself age faster?
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Aging is inevitable. Premature aging doesn't have to be. Unfortunately—despite Americans' eagerness to embrace anti-aging cosmetics, supplements and regimens—aging before your time is all too common. That's because too many of us indulge in everyday habits that science has found can rapidly age our bodies, inside and out. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

1

Eating Too Much Sugar

African Woman Eating Slice Of Cake Near Open Refrigerator
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Not only can consuming too much sugar prematurely age your body—it increases your chance of obesity and associated health problems like cardiovascular disease and diabetes—that less-than-sweet habit can make your skin look older. When consumed in excess, sugar binds to collagen and elastin, two proteins in skin that keep it looking plump and young, creating compounds that damage collagen and elastin and actually prevent their repair. Translation: Wrinkles, sagging and sallowness. 

2

Not Getting Enough Sleep

30-something woman having trouble sleeping
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Scientists at UCLA found that just one night of bad sleep actually makes older adults' cells age faster. And that can show up on your face: According to a different study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, women who reported getting frequent, good quality sleep experienced "significantly lower intrinsic skin aging" than women who got poor sleep. Experts advise making sleep a priority: Aim to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.

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3

Drinking Too Much Alcohol

man pouring a glass of wine
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Alcohol dehydrates the skin and causes inflammation, two main factors of skin aging. If you habitually drink to excess, studies suggest you can expect to see more fine lines, wrinkles, redness, and puffiness. To keep yourself looking young—and to reduce your risk of diseases that increase with age, like cancer or heart disease—avoid alcohol or drink only in moderation. According to experts, that means no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Dementia, According to Experts

4

Not Relaxing Enough

Mature businessman experiencing a headache while working at his desk
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Chronic stress is exhausting, and over time, it can really tap you out, leading to premature aging on the cellular level. Harvard Medical School reports that chronic stress can shorten our telomeres, the structures inside each cell that contain genetic information. As telomeres get shorter, cells age and eventually die. People with shorter telomeres are at increased risk of serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer. To wit: Finnish researchers recently found that ongoing severe stress can shorten your life by up to three years.

RELATED: This Common Habit Can Lead to Heart Disease

5

Avoiding Sunscreen

woman applying sunscreen lotion standing outdoors at the urban location during the sunny weather
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You probably know that basking in the sun without sunscreen can damage your skin. It's called photoaging—literally, aging caused by light—and can result in liver spots, freckles, wrinkling and sagging. But did you know that it's important to apply a daily moisturizer that contains sunscreen, even when you're far from the pool or beach? Sun exposure, even on cloudy days, can contribute to photoaging. Experts recommend applying a facial moisturizer of at least 30 SPF on a daily basis. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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