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Cigarette Bacteria

December 10, 2009

Cigarettes harbor a wide variety of disease-causing bacteria.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
A new reason to quit smoking. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As if cigarettes weren’t unhealthy enough, a new study has found that they’re chock full of potentially harmful bacteria. The work was led by Amy Sapkota of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.

AMY SAPKOTA (University of Maryland):
We tested four major brands of cigarettes. And we found a great diversity of microbes in the cigarettes, and in particular we found hundreds of human pathogens.

HIRSHON:
– Pathogens that cause pneumonia, food poisoning, meningitis, and many other illnesses. It’ll take more research to find out if smokers get infections from cigarettes. But previous studies have found that smokers have more bacteria in their noses and mouths than non-smokers. And other work hints that at least some bacteria can survive the smoking process and pass through a cigarette filter. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.