Tobacco smoking and the fecal microbiome in a large, multi-ethnic cohort

Ajay Prakash, Brandilyn A. Peters, Emilia Cobbs, Dia Beggs, Heesun Choi, Huilin Li, Richard B. Hayes, Jiyoung Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing evidence suggests that tobacco smoking, a well-known driver of carcinogenesis, influences the gut microbiome; however, these relationships remain understudied in diverse populations. Thus, we performed an analysis of smoking and the gut microbiome in a subset of 803 adults from the multi-ethnic NYU FAMiLI study. Methods: We assessed fecal microbiota using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and clustered samples into Amplicon Sequence Variants using QIIME2. We evaluated inferred microbial pathway abundance using PICRUSt. We compared population b-diversity, and relative taxonomic and functional pathway abundance, between never smokers, former smokers, and current smokers. Results: We found that the overall composition of the fecal microbiome in former and current smokers differs significantly from that of never smokers. The taxa Prevotella and Veillonellaceae were enriched in current and former smokers, whereas the taxa Lachnospira and Tenericutes were depleted, relative to never smokers. These shifts were consistent across racial and ethnic subgroups. Relative to never smokers, the abundance of taxa enriched in current smokers were positively correlated with the imputed abundance of pathways involving smoking-associated toxin breakdown and response to reactive oxygen species (ROS). Conclusions: Our findings suggest common mechanisms of smoking associated microbial change across racial subgroups, regardless of initial microbiome composition. The correlation of these differentials with ROS exposure pathways may suggest a role for these taxa in the known association between smoking, ROS and carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1328-1335
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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