November 13, 2019

Kilkenny famine poor were heavy smokers, new study shows

SMOKING was rampant among the poorest adults who died in the Irish famine – and it caused serious tooth decay.

A new study carried out on the teeth of 363 impoverished Irish men and women who died in the Kilkenny Union Workhouse from 1847 and 1851 showed shockingly poor oral health among the famine victims. The remains of many of the workhouse famine victims showed both tooth loss, tooth decay but also tell-tale signs of pipe smoking marks.

The newly published research carried out by leading bioarchaeologist Dr. Jonny Geber discovered nearly eight out of ten of the remains showed evidence of tooth decay, with over half the adults missing teeth. Dr. Geber said: “Our study shows that it is not only diet that affects your oral health, but many other factors – and we argue that smoking was a major contributing factor in the Kilkenny population sample.”

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