Quitting smoking still changes the intestinal flora effect

Quitting smoking still changes the intestinal flora effect

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Smoking cessation can lead to major changes in the gut microbiome

Previous scientific research has shown that smoking changes the gut microbiome. A new study has now found that smoking cessation also leads to major changes in the intestinal bacteria. However, the researchers do not yet know whether this is good or bad.

The small pilot study, which will be presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia, is based on previous research that shows a connection between intestinal bacteria and cardiovascular health. This earlier work has shown that smoking is associated with a decrease in the diversity of beneficial bacteria living in the gut.

Is the change in the intestinal flora good or bad?

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

"We came to the conclusion that smoking cessation changes the intestinal flora, and I think that's a significant piece of science," said the study's lead author, Dr. Marcus Sublette from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

“It was already known that smoking changes the gut microbiome. We add here that smoking cessation continues to change the gut microbiome. Then of course the question arises: 'Is that good? Or is it bad? ’We don’t know yet,” says Dr. Marcus Sublette

Increased bacterial diversity has positive health effects

The study showed that improvements in bacterial diversity were associated with a decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and C-reactive protein levels. An increase in hemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen, has also been observed.

"All of these changes are indirect markers of potentially better health," says Sublette. "It reinforces the hypothesis that the gut microbiome really does something against cardiovascular diseases."

Sublette explains that people who quit smoking showed a decrease in bacteria called Firmicutes and an increase in others called Bacteroides. “It is difficult to understand exactly what this relationship means because we are still at an early stage of research into the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease. But it contributes to the big picture and helps us understand this, ”said the researcher.

Further research planned

According to Sublette, the study is only of limited significance due to the small number of participants and the relatively narrow focus. The scientist says he is now planning to carry out further research in which mice are fed with intestinal bacteria by humans. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • American Heart Association: Quitting smoking could lead to major changes in gut bacteria, (accessed: November 17, 2019), American Heart Association
  • Circulation: Abstract 9944: Effects of Smoking Cessation on the Intestinal Microbiota, (accessed: November 17, 2019), Circulation

Video: This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Smoking Tobacco (December 2022).