Smoking and vaping may increase risk of severe COVID-19, study finds

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In a study from UCLA, scientists suggest that smoking tobacco and vaping electronic cigarettes may increase healthy young people’s risk for developing severe COVID illness.

This is among the first studies to find that not only smoking tobacco but also vaping, may predispose people to increased inflammation and future development of severe COVID-19.

In the study, the team examined blood samples collected before the pandemic from 45 non-smokers, 30 electronic cigarette vapers, and 29 tobacco cigarette smokers.

They measured levels of since-identified proteins that SARS-CoV-2, the virus at the heart of the pandemic, needs in order to replicate. These proteins are ACE2, furin, Ang II, Ang 1–7, IL-6R, sCD163, and L-selectin.

The three latter proteins are collectively regulated in cells by a protein known as ADAM17.

The team found that plasma from healthy young people who smoke tobacco or vape had increased levels of furin, sCD163, and L-selectin over that of non-smokers.

These data suggest that there may be an increased activity of the proteins furin and ADAM17 in the immune cells as well as surface cells, such as those lining the lungs, in healthy young smokers and vapers.

The team says e-cigarette vapers may be at higher risk than non-smokers of developing infections and inflammatory disorders of the lungs.

Electronic cigarettes are not harmless and should be used for only the shortest time possible in smoking cessation, and not at all by non-smokers.

The team says future research with a larger sample size is needed.

The reliance on testing blood plasma rather than tissue samples such as lung cells that are believed to be affected by smoking and vaping also warrants deeper research.

There is a lack of evidence of the role that the ADAM17 proteins may play in severe COVID illness among non-smokers.

If you care about health, please read studies about why Viagra may be useful in treating lung diseases, and how to reverse high blood pressure in the lungs.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about the cause of mysterious blood clots in long COVID, and results showing zinc could help reduce COVID-19 infection risk.

The study was conducted by Dr. Theodoros Kelesidis et al and published in the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

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