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In the Mouth, Smoking Zaps Healthy Bacteria

According to a new study, smoking causes the body to turn against its own helpful bacteria, leaving smokers more vulnerable to disease.

Despite the daily disturbance of brushing and flossing, the mouth of a healthy person contains a stable ecosystem of healthy bacteria. New research shows that the mouth of a smoker is a much more chaotic, diverse ecosystem—and is much more susceptible to invasion by harmful bacteria.

“When you compare a smoker and nonsmoker, there’s a distinct difference,” said Kumar. “The first thing you notice is that the basic ‘lawn,’ which would normally contain thriving populations made of a just few types of helpful bacteria, is absent in smokers.”

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