NIH Doctors warn of new coronavirus threat for smokers

Chris Burns - Mar 26, 2020, 2:55 pm CDT
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NIH Doctors warn of new coronavirus threat for smokers

A report from Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse warned that those with substance abuse disorders have a higher potential for harm when it comes to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Dr. Volkow warned those with substance use disorders (SUDs) and those with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may be hit harder than the general population. “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.”

Smoking and coronavirus (COVID-19)

The public health and medical research community, said Dr. Volkow, should “be alert to associations between COVID-19 case severity/mortality and substance use, smoking or vaping history, and smoking- or vaping-related lung disease.”

Of particular interest to those who currently smoke, vape, or ingest substances that aren’t particularly good for their health, Dr. Volkow had the following to say: “We must also ensure that patients with substance use disorders are not discriminated against if a rise in COVID-19 cases places added burden on our healthcare system.” The medical community SHOULD be interested most in the health of every patient – cross your fingers that’s always true.

In short: Coronavirus (re: COVID-19) has a better chance at attacking and infecting people who, in any way, impair the health of their lungs. Because this novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 attacks the lungs, smoking is a bad idea, especially right this minute.

Vaping and coronavirus (COVID-19)

A study published in September of 2019 showed extensive research on the effects of electronic cigarettes. This vaping study showed that e-cigs disrupt lung lipid homeostasis and innate immunity independent of nicotine. In other words – even without the nicotine of traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes reduce smokers’ ability to fight malicious entities.

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Per that study, “Together, our findings reveal that chronic e-cigarette vapor aberrantly alters the physiology of lung epithelial cells and resident immune cells and promotes poor response to infectious challenge.” Vaping diminishes a smoker’s ability to respond to infection – both traditional cigarette and e-cigarette smokers have a lowered ability to avoid COVID-19 infection. We’ll know just how much lowered an ability to avoid COVID-19 once this invisible killer has swept the entire globe and more studies are run throughout the next several years. For now, better safe than sorry.


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