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Tob Induc Dis. 2008 Dec 18;4:12. doi: 10.1186/1617-9625-4-12.

Tobacco use increases susceptibility to bacterial infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA.


Active smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of bacterial infection. Tobacco smoke exposure increases susceptibility to respiratory tract infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia and Legionnaires disease; bacterial vaginosis and sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea; Helicobacter pylori infection; periodontitis; meningitis; otitis media; and post-surgical and nosocomial infections. Tobacco smoke compromises the anti-bacterial function of leukocytes, including neutrophils, monocytes, T cells and B cells, providing a mechanistic explanation for increased infection risk. Further epidemiological, clinical and mechanistic research into this important area is warranted.

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