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Irish Famine victims were heavy smokers which caused badly rotten teeth, researchers from the University of Otago and Queen's University Belfast, in Ireland, have discovered.
The research was carried out on on the teeth of 363 adult victims of the Great Irish Famine, who died in the Kilkenny Union Workhouse between 1847 and 1851. Their remains were discovered in an unmarked mass burial ground by archaeologists in 2005.
Findings - Health - Famine - Victims - Cent
The findings show poor oral health among most of the famine victims, with 80 per cent of the adult remains showing evidence of tooth decay, and over half missing teeth. There were also revealing signs of pipe smoking marks on their teeth.
This is the first study that explores the relationship between smoking and oral health in an archaeological sample of a historical population.
Professor - Eileen - Murphy - School - Natural
Professor Eileen Murphy, from the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast explains this research is important as the current clinical understanding of how smoking affects oral health is not fully understood, and this study adds to that discourse.
"As well as this, the study also gives us a unique insight into the living conditions of the working classes in Victorian Irish society at the time of the Great Famine," Professor Murphy says.
Smoking - Part - Life - People - Habit
"Smoking was evidently an important part of life for these people, a habit that they could enjoy amongst deprived social conditions...
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