Smoking Causes Changes to Mouth Bacteria

July 20, 2016
Smoking Changes Mouth Bacteria

A leading cause of death throughout the world, smoking causes cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, cervix, colon and rectum. Now a new study suggests smoking and mouth bacteria may also have a unique relationship that can jeopardize a person's health in previously unknown ways.
Throwing Off Bacterial Balance
According to new research, smoking drastically alters oral microbiome, resulting in an increased risk of mouth, lung and digestive system diseases.
The mix of roughly 600 bacterial species within a person's mouth, oral microbiome plays a key role in promoting good overall health. To see how cigarettes might impact this mix, researchers out of NYU Langone Medical Center analyzed the mouths of more than 1,200 Americans.
The group included former smokers, current smokers and people who had never smoked. Ultimately, the researchers found that current smokers demonstrated significantly higher amounts of over 150 specific bacterial species, along with a sharp decrease in 70 other key species. This resulted in bacterial populations that were vastly different from nonsmokers and former smokers.
For instance, smoker bacteria populations were comprised of only 5 percent proteobacteria species, compared to 12 percent in nonsmokers. This discovery appears to be significant, since proteobacteria play a role in breaking down toxic chemicals introduced by smoking.
Another Reason to Quit
Past studies have linked bacterial species imbalances in the digestive system to some gastrointestinal cancers and immune disorders such as Crohn's disease. Now, this recent study suggests smoking could weaken the body's defenses against cancer-causing chemicals by eliminating beneficial bacteria in the mouth.
Fortunately, the study also showed that oral microbiome returned to a normal state once people quit smoking. If you've been struggling to quit, this new research is yet another reason to double your efforts.
Modern medications, patches and nicotine gums can make it much easier to eliminate tobacco products from your life. If you'd like to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about potential solutions that will allow you to kick the habit, once and for all.

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