Blog Archive - December 2009
December 9, 2009
The University of Maryland School of Public Health recently published a study in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. The goal of the study was to search for microbes in 4 common brands of American cigarettes. Fifteen different classes of bacteria and a broad range of potential pathogens were detected in all of the cigarette samples. 90% of all samples detected these familiar nanobugs: Acinetobacter, Clostridium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Serratia , Klebsiella, Burkholderia and Bacillus. Over the years, studies have shown as association between smoking and an increased risk of lung infections. However, this is the first study to show that cigarettes themselves could be the direct source of exposure to a wide array of potential pathogens among smokers and other people exposed to secondhand smoke. The specific public health implications of this study are unclear and further studies are needed to determine if the bacteria present is cigarettes actually causes respiratory infection. It is also interesting to read other studies that detected more bacterial pathogens (disease-producing microbes) in the oral cavity of smokers and the children of smokers compared with non-smokers and their children. In fact, smokers have been shown to be 18 times more likely to harbor bacterial pathogens in their mouths than non-smokers.
These findings don’t really surprise me – they just reinforce my healthy choices to: remain a non-smoker, to avoid breathing secondhand smoke and to avoid kissing smokers. Maybe holiday parties should differentiate mistletoe for smokers and non-smokers.