Smokers are at a Higher Risk of COVID-19, Says new Study

The latest research from CSHL scientists proposes that tobacco smoke pushes the lungs to make more ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2). It is the protein that plays a big role behind initiating the COVID-19 in a person as it acts as a passage to enter inside the body cells. The complete findings of this new study are published in the journal Developmental Cell.

The study highlights why smokers are more likely to suffer from some acute respiratory infections. The findings of this study show that this change is somehow reversible. It proposes that when a person quits smoking, it reduces the risk of getting all these respiratory infections, including the COVID-19.

Even from the early period of this coronavirus pandemic, researchers were trying to understand major differences in how individuals respond to coronavirus infection. Most infected people were only experiencing mild symptoms, even if they caught this injection. While many others needed intensive medical care including the need for a ventilator for smooth breathing. Three gatherings, specifically, have been altogether almost certain to develop serious illness: men, the old, and smokers.

Joan Smith and Jason Sheltzer have previously worked on understanding the disparities among different classes of people. for this new experiment, they gathered all the possible data they could find and concentrated on examining the gene activity inside the human lungs between the different aged people, different sexes, and groups such as smokers and nonsmokers. When they put it all together and started analyzing it, they observed that all those mice that were subjected to the cigarette smoke in a lab and humans identify themselves as smokers share a visible link of ACE2.

Sheltzer shared that there is no evidence related to the age and sex was found as it may impact the levels of ACE2 protein inside the human lungs, the effect of smoke vulnerability was quite strong. The difference somehow seems temporary but this new data exposed that the level of ACE2 proteins inside the lungs of those who had stopped smoking was surprisingly comparable to the non-smoking group.

Cigarettes appear to be an unlikely ally against the coronavirus. Tobacco smoke damages the minuscule air sacs in the lungs where oxygen enters the blood and hinders the hairs lining the air passages of the body that gently float along with the mucus. Smokers are more severely affected by flu and colds, and a long period of smoking may lead to the type of lung failure called emphysema, which is the type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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But data from the countries first hit by the novel coronavirus gave doctors stop, the extent of smokers among those being hospitalized for COVID-19 was lower than in non-smokers. For example, in China, about 8 per cent of infected individuals in the hospital were smokers, while 26 per cent of the general population smokes. The same figures for Italy are 8 and 19 per cent respectively.

Alberto Nájera at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, whose team analysed figures from 18 of the first such reports, said that the data seem to be repeated in different countries. He says nicotine may reduce the tendency of the immune system to overreact to the novel coronavirus and cause the cytokine storm, the inflammatory response that can be fatal.

Amna Rana

Amna Rana, a writing enthusiast and a microbiologist. Her areas of interest are medical and health care. She writes about diseases, treatments, alternative therapies, lifestyles and the latest news. You can find her on Linkedin Amna Rana.

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