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Smokers' taste buds "less sensitive"

Smokers have fewer and less sensitive taste buds on their tongues than people who do not smoke, research has shown.

Scientists in Greece used a form of electrical stimulation to test the threshold of a group of soldiers.

Study leader Pavlidis Pavlos, from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, said: "Statistically important differences between the taste thresholds of smokers and non-smokers were detected."

The study showed that 28 smokers tested had lower taste scores than the 34 non-smokers.

Differences were also seen in the shape of the fungiform papillae taste buds and the extent to which they were connected to blood vessels. The researchers found that they were flatter in smokers than those of non-smokers, with a reduced blood supply.

"Nicotine may cause functional and morphological alterations of papillae, at least in young adults," said Mr Pavlos.

The findings are reported in the online journal BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders.

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BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorder