The Wednesday Post (21/4/10)

YUM!!! I want to inhale me some of that!!! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/saudi/7110085/)

Cigarettes just keep getting more dangerous for you.

A paper published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has shown that as well as being full of the dangers we knew about (carcinogens etc.) they are also full of potentially pathogenic bacteria.

It’s been known for a long time that smoking gives you a greater chance of cancer and a huge range of issues including respiratory infections and pneumonia but this study found the actual pathogens were in the cigarettes.

The researchers pulled apart the cigarettes and performed a test called ‘microarray’ to look for bit of DNA they could compare to a database. When they did they got some pretty shocking results.

“Fifteen different classes of bacteria and a broad range of potentially pathogenic organisms were detected in all cigarette samples. Most notably, we detected Acinetobacter, Bacillus, Burkholderia, Clostridium, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Serratia in ≥ 90% of all cigarette samples. Other pathogenic bacteria detected included Campylobacter, Enterococcus, Proteus, and Staphylococcus. No significant variability in bacterial diversity was observed across the four different cigarette brands (tested)”

The issue that comes from this is “can the bacteria survive the smoke during aspiration?” It would seem to me that they would be able to which poses a significant risk to smokers.

Mind you, I know plenty of smokers that won’t change their habit just because bacteria will kill them as well. Cancer and bacterial infection just appears to be so subtle and, well, microscopic. People will only maintain the fear if they can perceive the danger. There needs to some work done to investigate the association between smoking and being hit by falling pianos. I bet if smokers knew one day they would end up on the business end of a falling piano they would think twice before they lit up.

Murin, S., et al. (2000). “Other smoking-affected pulmonary diseases.” Clin Chest Med 21(1): 121-137, ix.

Sapkota, A. R., et al. (2010). “Human pathogens abundant in the bacterial metagenome of cigarettes.” Environ Health Perspect 118(3): 351-356.

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