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Taste Thresholds for Bitterness and Cigarette Smoking

Naturevolume 202page1366 (1964) | Download Citation



A SIGNIFICANT correlation has been reported between taste sensitivity for bitter-tasting compounds such as quinine and number of reported foods disliked1. Cigarette smoking has also been observed to be associated with the bitter taste threshold variable2,3. No associations were observed, however, between taste thresholds for hydrochloric acid, sodium chloride, acetic acid and sucrose, on the one hand, and number of foods disliked1 or cigarettes smoked2,3 on the other. This communication records the association between the smoking habits of 31–50-year-old males and females, and their taste thresholds for two bitter-tasting compounds, quinine and 6-n-propylthio-uracil (PROP). The latter is a phenylthiourea (PTC) type compound, taste sensitivity to which is bimodally distributed, consistent with the hypothesis of a simple genetic dichotomy4–6. The ‘heavy cigarette smokers’ smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day, and we compared their thresholds for quinine and PROP with those of non-smokers.

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  1. Laboratory of Medical Genetics, Cleveland Psychiatric Institute, Cleveland, Ohio

  2. Research Division, Department of Psychiatry, and Department of Physiological Chemistry, Ohio State University Medical School, Columbus, Ohio



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