August 20, 2009

Cigarettes deaden the ability to taste

A study of 62 soldiers found that smokers had fewer and flatter taste buds than nonsmokers, researchers in Greece said.

Study leader Pavlidis Pavlos of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki said the team 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.

Statistically important differences between the taste thresholds of smokers and non-smokers were detected, Pavlos said in a statement. Differences concerning the shape and the vascularisation of fungiform papillae were also observed.

The researchers applied an electrical current to the tongue that generated a unique metallic taste. They measured how much current is required before a person perceives the sensation. The 28 smokers in the study group scored worse than the 34 non-smokers.

Using a contact endoscope, the researchers found the smoker's tongues had flatter fungiform papillae, with a reduced blood supply.

The study is published in the journal BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders.