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: 1060L

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Cigarette smoke can make a person lightheaded in a nauseous get-me-out of here way. It can incite long rants about the dangers of lung cancer and the evils of the tobacco industry. It can also pump up the powers of bacteria invading a person’s body, according to a recent study.

“Smoke can also stress out invasive bacteria and make them more aggressive,” said Laura E. Crotty Alexander. She is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UC San Diego. In particular, she’s talking about the antibiotic resistant superbug Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It can cause fatal infections in the skin or blood stream and at surgical sites. In the recent study, Crotty Alexander showed how exposure to smoke may make them even more harmful.

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

When the researcher exposed human cells to the MRSA, the cigarette-smoke population was better at glomming onto and 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.

And be careful of touting the benefits of reaching for an e-cigarette instead: in work presented last year, Crotty Alexander found that exposure to e-cigarette vapor also made MRSA all the more powerful.

The connection between MRSA and smoke-exposure has been tested in mice but not yet humans. Future research will show if the connection holds up for smokers. Interestingly, both MRSA infection rates and smoking rates are on the decline.

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Write your answers in the comments section below

  • JakariA04
    5/21/2018 - 12:04 p.m.

    This one is a good reason to smoke. Smokeing isn't good for you it's good to know.

  • MarquiseM04
    5/21/2018 - 12:43 p.m.

    I think smoking should be banned because they no that all of these things can happen from smoking

  • ChloeG-par1
    5/22/2018 - 09:41 a.m.

    I believe that its really bad to smoke even without reading this passage because second hand smoke kills people just as much as first and smoke. So I agree with this passage entirely.

  • LucyI-bai
    5/22/2018 - 12:12 p.m.

    This helped me know more about the effects of smoking!

  • LucyI-bai
    5/22/2018 - 12:14 p.m.

    This helped me know more about the effects of smoking

  • RohithG-bai
    5/22/2018 - 12:14 p.m.

    I think this article is important to know , because you can get lightheaded and nauseous from smoking.

  • TateB-bai
    5/22/2018 - 12:15 p.m.

    I think they should raise the prices on cigarettes even more because then people might not buy them.

  • MikkyM-bai
    5/22/2018 - 12:17 p.m.

    I think cigarettes are bad for you. They can make you nauseous.

  • RohithG-bai
    5/22/2018 - 12:18 p.m.

    I think it was important of me reading the article, because I wouldn’t know about MRSA if it wasn’t for the article.

  • JadeR-del
    5/22/2018 - 04:27 p.m.

    Some additional hazards of smoking are that they can make people feel or make them sick. They can make people feel lightheaded, nauseous, it can cause lung cancer, or as the text says "pump up the powers of bacteria". What the text means about the bacteria is that it can cause invasive bacteria to be more aggressive. Whether it's first or second-hand smoking it's harmful and can lead to death. This article really explains why smoking is so bad for you and your health and even those around you and their health too!

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