Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cigarettes Harbor Many Bacteria Harmful to Human Health

23.11.2009
Cigarettes are "widely contaminated" with bacteria, including some known to cause disease in people, concludes a new international study conducted by a University of Maryland environmental health researcher and microbial ecologists at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France.

The research team describes the study as the first to show that "cigarettes themselves could be the direct source of exposure to a wide array of potentially pathogenic microbes among smokers and other people exposed to secondhand smoke." Still, the researchers caution that the public health implications are unclear and urge further research.

"We were quite surprised to identify such a wide variety of human bacterial pathogens in these products," says lead researcher Amy R. Sapkota, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland's School of Public Health.

"The commercially-available cigarettes that we tested were chock full of bacteria, as we had hypothesized, but we didn't think we'd find so many that are infectious in humans," explains Sapkota, who holds a joint appointment with the University's Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and the department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

"If these organisms can survive the smoking process - and we believe they can - then they could possibly go on to contribute to both infectious and chronic illnesses in both smokers and individuals who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke," Sapkota adds. "So, it's critical that we learn more about the bacterial content of cigarettes, which are used by more than a billion people worldwide."

The study will appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and the pre-copyedited manuscript has been posted online.

PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE

The researchers describe the study as the first snapshot of the total population of bacteria in cigarettes. Previous researchers have taken small samples of cigarette tobacco and placed them in cultures to see whether bacteria would grow. But Sapkota's team took a more holistic approach using DNA microarray analysis to estimate the so-called bacterial metagenome, the totality of bacterial genetic material present in the tested cigarettes.

Among the study's findings and conclusions:

* Commercially available cigarettes show a broad array of bacterial diversity, ranging from soil microorganisms to potential human pathogens;
* The is the first study to provide evidence that the numbers of microorganisms in a cigarette may be as "vast as the number of chemical constituents;"
* Hundreds of bacterial species were present in each cigarette, and additional testing is likely to increase that number significantly;
* No significant variability in bacterial diversity was observed across the four different cigarette brands examined: Camel; Kool Filter Kings; Lucky Strike Original Red; and Marlboro Red;

* Bacteria of medical significance to humans were identified in all of the tested cigarettes and included Acinetobacter (associated with lung and blood infections); Bacillus (some varieties associated with food borne illnesses and anthrax); Burkholderia (some forms responsible for respiratory infections); Clostridium(associated with foodborne illnesses and lung infections); Klebsiella (associated with a variety of lung, blood and other infections); and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (an organism that causes 10 percent of all hospital-acquired infections in the United States).

"Now that we've shown that a pack of cigarettes is loaded with bacteria, we will conduct follow-up research to determine the possible roles of these organisms in tobacco-related diseases." Sapkota says.

For example, do cigarette-borne bacteria survive the burning process and go on to colonize smokers' respiratory systems? Existing research suggests that some hardy bacteria can be transmitted this way, the researchers say. This might account for the fact that the respiratory tracts of smokers are characterized by higher levels of bacterial pathogens. But it's also possible that smoking weakens natural immunity and the bacteria come from the general environment rather than from cigarettes. Further research will be needed to determine the possible health impacts of cigarette-borne bacteria.

RESEARCH TEAM

Sapkota is the lead and corresponding author. She conducted the research with Sibel Berger under the guidance of Timothy M. Vogel in 2007 at the Environmental Microbial Genomics Group, Laboratoire Ampère, UMR CNRS 5005, Ecole Centrale de Lyon in Lyon, France.

Amy R.Sapkota | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umd.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>