Yet another reason not to smoke: It gives superbugs superpowers
Yet another reason not to smoke: It gives superbugs superpowers World No Tobacco Day is May 31. (Mike Mozart/SAMHSA/Flickr)
Yet another reason not to smoke: It gives superbugs superpowers
Lexile: 610L

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Cigarette smoke can make a person lightheaded. Sometimes it can be in a nauseous get-me-out of here way. It can incite long rants. The rants are about the dangers of lung cancer. And they are about the evils of the tobacco industry. It can also pump up the powers of bacteria invading a person’s body. That is according to a study.

“Smoke can also stress out invasive bacteria. It can make them more aggressive.” So said Laura E. Crotty Alexander. She is an assistant clinical professor of medicine. She works at UC San Diego. 

In particular, she’s talking about the antibiotic resistant superbug Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It can cause fatal infections. These occur in the skin or blood stream. They occur at surgical sites. Crotty Alexander showed how exposure to smoke may make them even more harmful. These results are from the study.

Researchers grew MRSA in a lab. They grew some with cigarette smoke extract. They also grew some some in a “non-smoking section” of the lab bench. They let the MRSA loose on immune cells. The cigarette-smoke bacteria were harder to kill. They were resistant to chemical attacks. They were also resistant to the small pieces of protein that immune cells use to poke holes in invaders. 

Next the researcher exposed human cells to the MRSA. The cigarette-smoke population was better at glomming onto them. It was also better at invading them. The researchers are not sure of the exact mechanism. But they think that smoke could alter the charge of the MRSA’s cell walls.

Be careful of touting the benefits of reaching for an e-cigarette instead. Crotty Alexander found that exposure to e-cigarette vapor also made MRSA all the more powerful. This based on work presented last year.

The connection between MRSA and smoke-exposure has been tested in mice. But it has not yet ben tested in humans. Future research will show if the connection holds up for smokers. They did find something interesting. MRSA infection rates are on the decline. Smoking rates are also on the decline.

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Write your answers in the comments section below

  • BrendanG-bai1
    5/22/2018 - 12:14 p.m.

    I think that this is crazy. I mean I knew smoking was bad and all that, but making MRSA and maybe other diseases stronger. I mean that’s crazy, just crazy.

  • GabriellaJ-del
    5/22/2018 - 08:40 p.m.

    This article is about smoking and the effects that it can have on your body. We all know how bad smoking already is but in this passage the author describes how smoking can actually make the germs in your body stronger and harder to fight and get rid of.

  • DylanH-hol1
    10/05/2018 - 09:56 a.m.

    I always knew that smoking was awful for you but it just continues to get worst. Especially when the antibiotic bug is now way more harmful in the smoke, it is just way to dangerous now and days.

  • SophiaK-hol
    10/05/2018 - 09:58 a.m.

    Smoking is very bad for you and I never understood why people would want to do that to their body.

  • HavenH-hol
    10/05/2018 - 09:58 a.m.

    Smoking is one of the worst things in the world to me. I hate to see people smoking because I know in the end it will not turn out good for them. Yet again, some people get lucky even through smoking but most of the time people croak early. Ecigs are very popular and easier to get their hands on for teens including JUULs that are just as bad or worse than cigarettes and vapes. Smoking is terrible for you and a terrible decision to make when you start.

  • MaddieS-hol
    10/05/2018 - 09:58 a.m.

    I don't think anyone should purposely put these toxins and harmful bacteria into their bodies knowing what could happen. It's crazy and stupid that now they are making MRSA that is stronger and deadlier.

  • GeorgeR-hol
    10/05/2018 - 09:59 a.m.

    I think this is crazy for Laura E. Crotty Alexander to find all of this stuff out and she did a great job on this project sort of thing. This makes everyone deserves better.

  • ChaseJ-hol1
    10/05/2018 - 09:59 a.m.

    Smoking is not something that is not good it smells like garbage.I don't know why you would want to do it.

  • TaylorM-hol2
    10/05/2018 - 09:59 a.m.

    I think that it is good that smoking is declining and starting to stop. I dont understand why people tend to smoke and put bad things in there lungs

  • PeytonA-hol
    10/05/2018 - 10:00 a.m.

    I think smoking is very bad. I am glad smoking is on a downfall. I think smoking e-cigs are even worse than the regular one.

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