Smoking linked to higher risk of viral infection, coronavirus disease: study : The Tribune India


Los Angeles, October 6

Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of viral infection, including coronavirus, and respiratory illness, according to a study.

The findings, recently published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, support urgent recommendations to help patients quit smoking as a way to counter Covid.

Researchers at the University of California (UC) – Davis found that current smokers have a 12 percent increased risk of a laboratory-confirmed viral infection and a 48 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with respiratory illness.

“Previous research has shown that smoking increases the risk of COVID disease severity, but the risk of infection had been less clear,” said study lead author Melanie Dove, of UC Davis.

“The findings of our study show that smokers are at increased risk of viral infection, including coronavirus, and respiratory illnesses,” Dove said.

The researchers re-analyzed data from the British Cold Study (BCS), a 1986-1989 challenge investigation that exposed 399 healthy adults to one of five “common cold” viruses.

This included a type of common coronavirus (coronavirus 229E) that existed before the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 virus).

The team calculated overall and coronavirus-specific adjusted and unadjusted relative risks for current smokers, testing whether each association was modified by respiratory virus type.

The study showed that current smokers had an increased risk of respiratory viral infection and illness, with no significant differences between virus types.

The associations increased only for coronavirus 229E did not reach statistical significance. This was likely due to the small sample size with only 55 participants, of whom 20 were smokers, they said.

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These findings are consistent with the known damage caused by smoking to immune and respiratory defenses and some observational evidence of increased Covid infection and disease progression in current smokers, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that one of the main limitations of this study is that the common mild coronavirus 229E may have different biological and health effects than other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

Therefore, the findings may not be generalizable to other coronaviruses, they said.

“These findings may have implications for addressing population-level tobacco use as a strategy to prevent COVID infection,” said study senior author Elisa Tong, of the UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine.

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