At the origins of tobacco-smoking and tea consumption in a virgin population (Yakutia, 1650–1900 a.d.): Comparison of pharmacological, histological, economic and cultural data

Matthias Macé, Camille Richeval, Ameline Alcouffe, Liubomira Romanova, Patrice Gérard, Sylvie Duchesne, Catherine Cannet, Irina Boyarskikh, Annie Géraut, Vincent Zvénigorosky, Darya Nikolaeva, Charles Stepanoff, Delphine Allorge, Michele Debrenne, Norbert Telmon, Bertrand Ludes, Anatoly Alexeev, Jean Michel Gaulier, Eric Crubézy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

(1) Background: The way tobacco and tea spread among virgin populations is of major interest our understanding of how ancient economic and cultural practices could have influenced current habits. (2) Methods: hair concentrations of theobromine, theophylline, caffeine, nicotine, and cotinine were measured in hair samples from 47 frozen bodies of people from eastern Siberia, dated from the contact with Europeans to the assimilation of people into Russian society. (3) Results: hair concentration of theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine vary with the type of beverage consumed: green, black, or local herbal teas. Shortly after the first contacts, a few heavy consumers of tobacco were found among light or passive consumers. Tobacco-related co-morbidities began to be recorded one century after and heavy tea users were only found from the 19th century (4) Conclusions: Economic factors and social and family contacts seem to have played a decisive role in tobacco consumption very early on. Behavioral evolution governed the process of substance integration into Siberian culture and was a determinant for the continuity of its use across long periods of time. Analyzing the respective contributions of social and economic processes in the use of these substances opens avenues of investigation for today’s public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1271
JournalBiology
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Caffeine
  • Cotinine
  • Green tea
  • Herbal teas
  • Mummies histology
  • Nicotine
  • Pipe
  • Theobromine
  • Theophylline

OECD FOS+WOS

  • 1.06.CQ BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
  • 4.01 AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHERIES

State classification of scientific and technological information

  • 03 STORY. HISTORICAL SCIENCE

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