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What Is the Most Deadly Toxin?

The most deadly toxin is botulinum toxin, a type of bacteria that causes botulism, a condition that can result in paralysis of the central nervous system and lead to respiratory failure. It is thought to be more than 10 million times more lethal than cyanide. Botulinum toxin can enter the body through open wounds or by consuming contaminated food. Purified versions of botulinum toxin, including the well-known brand Botox®, are approved for cosmetic usage and are often injected into people's faces to smooth wrinkles. This works because traces of the toxin cause slight, temporary paralysis of the facial muscles that cause wrinkles.

More about toxins:

  • It is estimated that botulinum toxin is so deadly that less than 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of it would be enough to kill everyone in the world.

  • The pufferfish contains tetrodotoxin, one of the most toxic poisons found in any animal. Japan, where this fish is sometimes eaten, typically has the highest pufferfish-related poisoning rate — as many as 200 cases each year.

  • Injections of trace amounts of botulinum toxin are the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure.

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