Smoking may dull taste buds

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Smoking dampens the ability to taste. In a study published in the journal BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders, doctors used electrical stimulation to test the taste threshold of 62 Greek participants. Applying an electrical current to the tongue generates a unique metallic taste.

Measuring the amount of current required before a person perceives this taste enables researchers to determine taste sensitivity. The 28 smokers in the study scored worse on this test than the 34 non–smokers. The doctors than measured the number and shape of a type of taste bud called fungiform papillae.

They found that the smokers had flatter fungiform papillae, with a reduced blood supply. Nicotine may cause functional and morphological alterations of papillae, at least in young adults.