Quitting Smoking Can Restore Normal Bacteria To Oral Microbiome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, RD, MS
Associate Professor of Population Health
Associate Director of Population Sciences,
NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center  and
Brandilyn Peters (post-doctoral fellow, lead author)
NYU Langone School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Oral bacteria play important roles in oral health, and can influence the health of other body systems as well. We were interested in studying how cigarette smoking affects oral bacteria. To do this, we examined the oral bacteria in mouthwash samples from 112 current smokers, 571 former smokers, and 521 people who never smoked. We found that the mouth bacterial composition of current smokers differed dramatically from those who never smoked. However, the mouth bacterial composition of former smokers was similar to that of never smokers, suggesting that quitting can restore the oral bacteria back to a healthy state.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Our study represents yet another reason for people to quit smoking. New research suggests that oral bacteria are very important not only for oral health, but also for digestive system health, and possibly cardiovascular health. We have much yet to learn regarding all the roles oral bacteria play in our health. However, it is already clear that having a healthy oral microbiome is important, and our study shows that those who quit smoking can still have a healthy oral microbiome.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We think it will be important for future research to focus on what roles oral bacteria may have in smoking-related cancer. For example, we found that Proteobacteria were severely depleted in the mouths of smokers – we want to know, do these bacteria protect against smoking-related cancer? Future investigations can then determine whether manipulating the oral bacteria to a healthy state can protect against smoking-related diseases. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Quitting smoking is of course the best way to prevent smoking-related disease. However, even after quitting, risk for disease lingers. We hope that research into the oral microbiome can lead us to ways of lowering disease risk even further. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


 Jing Wu, Brandilyn A Peters, Christine Dominianni, Yilong Zhang, Zhiheng Pei, Liying Yang, Yingfei Ma, Mark P Purdue, Eric J Jacobs, Susan M Gapstur, Huilin Li, Alexander V Alekseyenko, Richard B Hayes, Jiyoung Ahn.
Cigarette smoking and the oral microbiome in a large study of American adults. The ISME Journal, 2016; DOI:10.1038/ismej.2016.37

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More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Dr. Jiyoung Ahn and Brandilyn Peters (2016). Quitting Smoking Can Restore Normal Bacteria To Oral Microbiome MedicalResearch.com

Last Updated on March 30, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD