knowing all the dangers and side effects of smoking on human health, it is a well-understood fact that nicotine is harmful to the heart, kidney, and lungs. It also reduces immunity and increases the risk of certain respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia. In addition to this, smokers are more likely to touch their face and mouth area which subjects them to an increased risk of coronavirus.
All this information suggests that smokers might be at high risk of getting the coronavirus. But a recent study explains that smoking might be saving people from the coronavirus. So is this nicotine really saving people from coronavirus?
This was a cross-sectional survey that examined the exposure to nicotine and the chances of coronavirus together. It might not be possible for such a study to prove and predict the outcomes, it only shows a link.
The study involved 482 patients at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. Out of this, 343 serious patients of coronavirus were considered and divided into two groups, both of which were receiving the coronavirus treatment between February and April 2020. The preliminary information collected from the participants also included questions on their smoking habits.
Based on this information, the researchers were able to compare the risk in smokers and non-smokers among these people.
The results showed that 4.4% of inpatients and 5.3% of outpatients showing coronavirus symptoms were smokers. The author of this study says that the people who are currently habitual smokers showed a very low chance of getting severe coronavirus symptoms. This is much lesser than the general public which is at high risk of coronavirus.
In this regard, it is very unusual to see smokers are at low risk of coronavirus, as they were initially thought to be at higher risk.
This report on reduced coronavirus complications risk for smokers has also been studied in a review of 28 previous studies which discussed smoking habits in coronavirus positive cases from outside France.
The researchers of this current study say that the reason behind this reduced risk might be associated with nicotine. However, it is too early to declare a final statement.
Coronavirus is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus which invades the human body by attaching itself to the ACE2 protein receptors on cellular surfaces. The researchers have assumed that probably nicotine hinders in these attachments of the virus to the ACE2 receptors. This way, it prevents the virus from attaching to the cell and invading the body.
The research team is now planning to study this hypothesis in detail using a randomized trial with nicotine patches instead of cigarettes. However, this trial is currently awaiting approval from health authorities in France.
There could be many factors behind this. For example, it could be based on selective nature. The patients in hospitals that are here for getting coronavirus treatment might not be severely addicted to nicotine like regular smokers. Some of them might be ex-smokers who have now quit smoking.
In addition to this, there are high chances of false reporting of information. Patients are more likely to lie when they are asked about them being a smoker or nonsmoker while they are at a hospital. It might be a natural defensive mechanism of them but for particular studies like this, it is not something right at their end.
Lastly, the data collection might not be complete, as behavioral questions might not be dully answered amid the coronavirus cases in hospitals. Only a revision of this paper could reveal more information on whether or not nicotine saves a person from coronavirus.
Conclusively, there appears to be some link between coronavirus symptoms and smoking habits. But there is no actual evidence of these two being connected. Only a detailed analysis of this basic report and molecular mechanism of coronavirus pathogenesis and the introduction of nicotine could explain this relation.