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Smokers' tongues fail taste test

August 19, 2009

Smokers have fewer and flatter taste buds. A study of the tongues of 62 Greek soldiers, published in the open access journal BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders, has demonstrated how cigarettes deaden the ability to taste.

Pavlidis Pavlos led a team of researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki who used electrical stimulation to test the taste threshold of the soldiers and endoscopes to measure the number and shape of a kind of taste bud called fungiform papillae. He said, "Statistically important differences between the taste thresholds of smokers and non-smokers were detected. Differences concerning the shape and the vascularisation of fungiform papillae were also observed".

By applying electrical current to the tongue, a unique metallic taste can be generated. Measuring how much current is required before a person perceives this sensation allows determination of their taste sensitivity. The 28 smokers in the study group scored worse than the 34 non-smokers. Upon close examination with a contact endoscope, the smoker's tongues had flatter fungiform papillae, with a reduced blood supply. Pavlos concludes, "Nicotine may cause functional and morphological alterations of papillae, at least in young adults".
-end-
Notes to Editors

1. Evaluation of young smokers and non-smokers with electrogustometry and contact endoscopy.
Pavlos Pavlidis, Vasilios Nikolaidis, Antonia Anogeianaki, Dimitrios Koutsonikolas, Georgios Kekes and George Anogiannakis
BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders
(in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/2816911442360424_article.pdf?random=641671

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcearnosethroatdisord/

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Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis and management of ear, nose and throat disorders, as well as related molecular genetics, pathophysiology, and epidemiology. BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders (ISSN 1472-6815) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

BioMed Central

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