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Exposure to tobacco smoke makes the bacteria MRSA more aggressive

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Exposure to tobacco smoke makes the bacteria MRSA more aggressive, making it harder for the immune system to fight off the infection, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Their study was published on March 30 by the Infection and Immunity journal.
The University of California San Diego News Center reported the following:
  • The data suggest that cigarette smoke strengthens MRSA bacteria by altering their cell walls in such a way that they are better able to repel antimicrobial peptides and other charged particles. 
  • MRSA treated with cigarette smoke extract were also better at sticking to and invading human cells grown in the lab. In a mouse model, MRSA exposed to cigarette smoke survived better and caused pneumonia with a higher mortality rate.  The effect was dose-dependent, meaning that the more smoke extract they used, the more resistant the MRSA became.  
  • The researcher noted that “cigarette smokers are known to be more susceptible to infectious diseases. Now we have evidence that cigarette smoke-induced resistance in MRSA may be an additional contributing factor.”
The study was also reported in the Bergen Record’s April 21 story