Cigarettes Are Filled With Bacteria
As if you needed another reasont to quit smoking, it turns out that in addition to all the toxic chemicals and cancer causing agents contained in cigarettes, researchers have discovered that they also contain pathogenic bacteria, many of which can cause disease in humans.
The key question is whether or not these pathogens survive the smoking process. If they do, and the authors of the study believe they can, then cigarettes could be a signficant source of infectious disease and illness in both smokers as well as people exposed to second hand smoke.
Previous studies had identified bacterial content of cigarettes by culturing them directly out of the tobacco. The current study, however, was the first to track the bacteria by elucidating the total genetic content of the bacteria present.
What they found was that the tobacco contains hundredes of species of bacteria that may be as diverse and wide ranging as the number of chemicals in cigarettes. The infectious agents range from common soil bacteria to ones that can cause illness in humans. The authors believe that further testing will reveal even greater numbers.
The bacteria that are cause for the most concern include ones associated with lung and blood infections (Acinetobacter and Klebsiella), some responsible for food borne illnesses (Bacillus and Clostridium), and one bacteria that is known to cause 10% of all hospital infections in this country (Pseudomonas aruginosa).
The broad implications in terms of the public health impact are still unclear. However, now that the existence of so many bacteria has been determined, the next step will be to find out what role these organisms might possibly play in smoking related diseases, especially in light of the fact that the respiratory tracts of smokers have particularly high levels of harmful bacteria. The question then becomes one of cause or effect: do the bacteria come from the cigarettes, or does smoking lower a person’s immunity and therefore make them more susceptible to infection from the environment.
Whatever be the case, it doesn’t take a genius in this day and age to know that smoking is really bad for you and is directly tied to such health risks as heart disease, cancer, and emphysema, to name a few. It also ages you prematurely and makes you unpleasant to be around because of the secondhand smoke as well as various unpleasant odors.
Despite these significant drawbacks, smoking in this country continues at a steady pace. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), levels of smoking in this country have remained relatively unchanged for the past five years, with 20.6% of the population (46 million people) still smoking in 2008. If anything, experts say the trends in smoking may be moving in the wrong direction.
So if you smoke, by all means quit, and if you don’t smoke, then don’t even start. For more information, check out the Smoke Free website brought to you buy the National Cancer Institute and the CDC.