Cigarette smoking affects microbiota, bacteria found in the mouth, leading to high toxicity and risk of developing diseases such as tooth decay, gum diseases, throat infections and more, latest report suggests.

A report contained in the journal of International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) states that cigarette smoking, a popular habit in the world, changes the structure and functioning of microbes in the mouth. The habit increases the toxicity levels in the mouth and also lowers the effectiveness of the vital bacteria in fighting off infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16.8 percent of smokers in America were aged at least 18 years and make up the 40 million smokers in the region. Individuals who are currently affected by smoking-related conditions in America are estimated to be more than 16 million while 480,000 die each year from the habit.cigarette

Cigarette smoking is a frequent cause of death in America yet most of the cases can be prevented. Several studies have been done to ascertain the imbalance of microbiota in the gut and mouth as well as connection with gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer, Crohn’s disease, and other smoking-related ailments.

Researchers based at the University of New York in collaboration with colleagues from Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center and Langone Medical Center have been analyzing the effect cigarette smoking has on oral microbiota.

The human mouth is believed to contain about 600 bacteria species, and with more than 75% of the cancer of the mouth being blamed on smoking cigarettes, scientists and medics have always hinted that altered microbes were a contributing factor.

A study funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) surveyed a total of 1,204 adults aged 50 years and over. 112 participants were cigarette smokers and 521 had never smoked in their life. Out of the remaining 571 individuals who had had stopped smoking, 17% hadn’t held a cigarette in 10 years.

According to Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, Epidemiologist and senior investigator, after analyzing thousands of bacteria in the mouths of the participants, the group used statistical data and genetic tests to compare the structural differences and frequency of the microbes.

The oral microbiomes in a smoker’s mouth are different from those found in non-smokers or people who had stopped smoking for a long time. 150 bacteria species were higher in a smoker’s mouth while 70 other species were significantly lower.

Proteobacteria which plays a crucial role in combating toxic chemicals was 4.6% in a smoker’s mouth compared to 11.7% in a non-smoker. Smokers had a higher percentage (10%) of tooth decay causing bacteria, Streptococcus.

Jiyoung Ahn stated that the oral microbes reverted back to their previous state after a smoker quit smoking. He however says that there is need for more research to ascertain if the changes affect the body’s immunity especially in regard to cancer related to smoking such as lung, mouth, or gut.