Education

Oct 2020 Within Tobacco is a Potential COVID Benefit [3-min read]

No health professional would ever recommend starting tobacco. I am no different. Though, there is a potential hidden benefit within tobacco. – Nicotine

Tobacco – COVID Relationship:

There is actually a surprisingly low number of people who use tobacco being diagnosed with COVID [1,2]. Proposing that tobacco use may provide some protection from contracting the illness. Though controversial, there is evidence suggesting tobacco may decrease the number of virus entry points in the lungs. One study exposed tobacco smoke to bronchial [lung] epithelial cells. The researchers found a significant reduction of membrane ACE-2 expression (about 25%) following smoke exposure [3].

“Once you have COVID, tobacco may work against you.”

Once you have COVID, tobacco may work against you. A different study looked at the charts of ~11,500 patients with COVID-19 to examine disease progression. Only 6.3% (~700) of patients had a history of smoking. The researchers declared smoking as a risk factor for the progression of COVID-19, with smokers having higher odds of COVID-19 progression (30%) than never smokers (18%) [4].

In conclusion, we need to examine if nicotine can produce the protective benefits that we see with tobacco use. Hopefully, we don’t have to use tobacco itself. This is because most of the harmful effects of tobacco are actually from the additives. Taking pure nicotine, in theory, should provide protection and have no risk of worsening one’s COVID-19 disease progression.

Author: David Katz | DavidKatz@cox.net

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Reference:

  1. Tsigaris, Panagiotis, and Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva. “Smoking Prevalence and COVID-19 in Europe.” Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 22, no. 9, Aug. 2020, pp. 1646–49. academic.oup.com, doi:10.1093.
  2. Meini, Simone, et al. “The Paradox of the Low Prevalence of Current Smokers Among Covid-19 Patients Hospitalized in Non-Intensive Care Wards: Results From an Italian Multicenter Case-Control Study.” Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Sept. 2020 academic.oup.com, doi:10.1093.
  3. Caruso, Massimo, et al. Role of Cigarette Smoke on ACE-2 Protein Membrane Expression in Bronchial Epithelial Cells Using an Air-Liquid Interface Model. Oct. 2020. www.preprints.org, doi:10.20944.
  4. Patanavanich, Roengrudee, and Stanton A. Glantz. “Smoking Is Associated With COVID-19 Progression: A Meta-Analysis.” Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 22, no. 9, Aug. 2020, pp. 1653–56. academic.oup.com, doi:10.1093
  5. Figure 1 – Tizabi, Yousef, et al. “Nicotine and the Nicotinic Cholinergic System in COVID-19.” The FEBS Journal, vol. 287, no. 17, 2020, pp. 3656–63. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111.

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