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Smoking increases the risk of catching COVID by 48%. Check details here

Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of viral infection, including coronavirus and respiratory illness. Providing detailed data, the researchers said that smokers have a 12% increased risk of a laboratory-confirmed viral infection and a 48% increased risk of being diagnosed with respiratory illnesses. 

The research has been published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal

“Past research has shown that smoking increases the risk of COVID-19 disease severity, but the risk of infection had been less clear,” said study lead author Melanie Dove from University of California (UC) – Davis.

“Our study findings show smokers have an increased risk of viral infection, including a coronavirus and respiratory illness,” Dove said.

For this particular study, the experts re-analysed data from the British Cold Study (BCS), a 1986-1989 challenge research that exposed 399 healthy adults to 1 of 5 “common cold” viruses. That included a type of common coronavirus (coronavirus 229E) that existed before COVID-19 virus. 

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

The study showed that current smokers had an increased risk of respiratory viral infection and illness, with no significant difference across the types of viruses.

The increased associations for only the 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.

These findings are consistent with known harms caused by smoking to immune and respiratory defences and some observational evidence of increased COVID-19 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 mild common coronavirus 229E may have different biological and health effects than other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

 

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