New research explains why meth users appear to age so quickly

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Research by Professor Daniele Piomelli, of University of California, Irvine, offers reasons why crystal meth - also known as methamphetamine - has such a devastating effect on the appearance of users.

Explore>>Photos: Meth users, before and after

The research shows that meth causes abnormalities in the fat metabolism of cells, which leads to a rise in a type of molecule that promotes cell death.

The research was done on rats.

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The drug changed the way fat was metabolized and triggered extreme inflammation and a corresponding sharp rise in the formation of ceramides; those are the molecules that cause cells to age and die.

“We found this signaling process to be key for advanced cellular aging, which is at the heart of the accelerated aging influenced by methamphetamine abuse,”Piomelli said.

Methamphetamine is highly addictive drug, in part because it gives users a feeling of euphoria.