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Quitting Smoking Changes Intestinal Flora – Unclear Effect – Naturopathy & Naturopathic Specialist portal


Smoking cessation can lead to severe changes in the intestinal microbiome.

Previous scientific research has shown that smoking alters the intestinal microbiome. In a new study, it has now been found that smoking cessation also leads to major changes in intestinal bacteria. Researchers do not yet know if this is good or bad.

The small pilot study presented at the American Heart Association Science Sessions in Philadelphia dates back to previous research demonstrating a link between intestinal bacteria and cardiovascular health. These previous studies have shown that smoking is associated with a decreased diversity of beneficial intestinal bacterial species.

Is the change in intestinal flora good or bad?

As the American Heart Association wrote in a statement, the researchers examined 26 people who tried to quit smoking for the study published in the journal "Circulation" and analyzed their stool samples at baseline and again two weeks and twelve weeks later.

"We have come to the conclusion that smoking cessation is altering the intestinal flora, and I think it is a significant part of science," said the lead author of the study. Marcus Sublette of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

"Smoking is known to alter the gut microbiome. We add here that smoking cessation continues to alter the gut microbiome. So, of course, the question arises: 'Is that good? Or is it bad?' Marcus Sublette

Greater bacterial diversity has positive health effects

The study showed that improvements in bacterial diversity were associated with a reduction in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and C-reactive protein levels. In addition, an increase in hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red blood cells, was detected.

"All of these changes are potentially indirect health markers," says Sublette. "This reinforces the hypothesis that the gut microbiome really does something with cardiovascular disease."

Sublette explains that people who quit smoking had a decrease in bacteria called Firmicutes and an increase in others called Bacteroides. "It is difficult to understand exactly what this ratio means, as we are still in the early stages of research on intestinal microbiota and cardiovascular disease. But it contributes to the overall picture and helps us understand that," said the researcher.

Other planned surveys

According to Sublette, the study is of limited significance due to the small number of participants and the relatively narrow focus. The scientist says he plans to conduct more research in which mice are fed intestinal bacteria from humans. (Ad)


  • American Heart Association: Quitting Smoking May Lead to Major Changes in Intestinal Bacteria, (Available 17/11/2019), American Heart Association
  • Circulation: Summary 9944: Effects of Smoking Cessation on the Intestinal Microbiota, (Retrieved: 17.11.2019), Circulation

Important note:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a doctor's visit.

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