A pathogenic pathway, from cigarette smoke to biofilms

Yet more new evidence has been released underlining just what a bad idea smoking is for your health. Cigarette smoke contains not only the highly addictive psychoactive drug nicotine, but also at least 69 carcinogens, and is already known to be a direct cause of a plethora of nasty conditions, including lung, oral, bladder and pancreatic cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (which includes emphysema and bronchitis), male impotence, heart attacks and strokes. It also increases your chances of catching a variety of infections, especially those that target the upper respiratory tract.

A team of researchers at Columbia University in New York have now shown that exposure to cigarette smoke increases the amount of biofilm produced by Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that often resides in the human nasal cavity. Biofilms exist all over the natural world (e.g. dental plaque), and form when microbes aggregate and encase themselves in a sticky protein/lipid/sugar matrix. Increased formation of these sticky biofilms in the nasal passage could be exploited by pathogens, allowing them to get an easy foothold on host cells, subsequently invade them, and cause disease. This research implies that the friendly, helpful microorganisms that naturally reside within us are heavily influenced and changed by our lifestyle choices.

Read the original article here.

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