Could Smoking Stop You From Getting Coronavirus?
COVID-19, as we know it, is a virus that predominately infects our respiratory system
As countries continue to battle against the spread of coronavirus by adjusting to new norms in society, scientists are continuously carrying out research to test what risk factors might put people at higher (or lower) risk of contracting the virus.
COVID-19, as we know it, is a virus that predominately infects our respiratory system. As of now, there isn’t a specific treatment or vaccine to target this disease, however, numerous ongoing clinical trials are being carried out with hope to find a “cure”.
Cigarette smoking is a known major health issue that causes detrimental effects to your lungs, such as coughs, wheezing, asthma, pneumonia, and lung cancer.
A study in China indicated smoking as a predisposing factor for virus contraction as it has shown to increase severity and mortality of the disease.
In a recent publication, researchers have predicted that smokers are more vulnerable to catching the virus than those that don’t smoke.
This is because nicotine directly impacts the ACE-2 receptor, identified as receptor cell for COVID-19. Exposure to nicotine was found to increase ACE-2 expression in the lungs. In other words, smokers susceptibility of catching COVID-19 is increased due to mutations in lung cells.
In contrary to this, a group of scientists in France suggested the possibility that nicotine has prevented smokers from catching the virus. The study tested a total of 343 outpatients and inpatients, with a median age of 65 years old.
“Our cross sectional study reports for the first time a decreased prevalence of daily current smokers in both COVID-19 outpatients and inpatients, as compared to the general population,” the authors wrote. According to their hypothesis, the virus modulates nicotine receptor cells.
Nicotine may act as a barricade as it competes against the virus to bind to nicotinic receptors, therefore prevent it spreading in the body.
Despite these findings, we need to be cautious with how we interpret these results. It is important to keep in mind that smoking increases the risk of mortality as it kills 50% of individuals that take up smoking.