COVID-19: SMOKERS AT HIGHER RISK OF INFECTION
“If you're a smoker, do try to stop”
Professor Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize-winning Infectious Diseases specialist
With the growing spread of COVID-19, you need your lungs to be as healthy as possible in the coming months. Your recovery time from contracting the COVID19 virus depends on the healthy functioning of your lungs.
Smokers are at increased risk from COVID-19. Now’s a really good time to stop smoking.
Professor Peter Doherty won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how the immune system identifies cells that have been infected by a virus. He is an Infectious Diseases specialist, and in an ABC News story, Prof Doherty has warned people to take the COVID-19 very seriously.
"Do not think that this is just another influenza. It's killing at least 10 times as many people as influenza," he said. "And it's particularly lethal for those in their 70s and 80s. It is dangerous and older people need to isolate themselves."
"If you're a smoker, do try to stop," he said.
This is a timely message in these troubling times. The good news is as soon as a smoker stops smoking, their lungs can start to heal themselves. This can reduce health complications from COVID-19, and that is important.
How quickly do lungs recover from smoking?
In a landmark study published in Nature on 29 January 2020, researchers showed that lungs can start to heal themselves almost immediately once a person stops smoking. This is great news, and whilst that study focused on lung cancer, the same conclusions apply to general lung health.
“By stopping smoking in middle age or earlier, smokers avoid most of the risk of tobacco-associated lung cancer. This benefit begins to emerge almost immediately and accrues steadily with time.”
MedicalNewsToday reported that the benefits of quitting smoking are ‘almost instant”. Lung health can improve after just 1 month, and after 9 months the lungs have significantly healed themselves.
After 12 hours
Cigarettes contain a lot of known toxins including carbon monoxide. After just 12 hours without a cigarette, the body cleanses itself of the excess carbon monoxide from the cigarettes. The carbon monoxide level returns to normal, increasing the body’s oxygen levels.
After 1 day
In as little as 1 day after quitting smoking, a person’s blood pressure begins to drop, decreasing the risk of heart disease from smoking-induced high blood pressure. In this short time, oxygen levels will have risen, making physical activity and exercise easier to do, promoting heart-healthy habits.
After 1 month
In as little as 1 month, a person’s lung function begins to improve. As the lungs heal and lung capacity improves, former smokers may notice less coughing and shortness of breath. Athletic endurance increases and former smokers may notice a renewed ability for cardiovascular activities, such as running and jumping.
After 9 months
Nine months after quitting, the lungs have significantly healed themselves. The delicate, hair-like structures inside the lungs known as cilia have recovered from the toll cigarette smoke took on them. These structures help push mucus out of the lungs and help fight infections.
Around this time, many former smokers notice a decrease in the frequency of lung infections because the healed cilia can do their job more easily.
Vaping vs Smoking
Of course, breathing fresh air is the best thing you can do for your lungs. If you don’t already smoke, then please DO NOT start vaping.
However… If you're looking at Vaping versus Smoking, then Vaping wins as the much healthier option – as long as the e-liquids you vape consist of high quality ingredients made by trusted manufacturers.
But how about smoking? According to the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from second-hand smoke exposure.
This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. And it is all preventable
Video Demo of Vaping vs Smoking
In 2018, Public Health England produced this video to visually demonstrate the impact of smoking versus vaping over a month.
The demonstration video features leading smoking researchers Dr Lion Shahab and Dr Rosemary Leonard. It goes for just under 3 minutes.
If you’re a smoker thinking about quitting, this could be the best 3 minute video you’ve ever watched!
Vaping (and Not Smoking) Can Rapidly Boost Health
A study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, looked specifically at vaping compared with tobacco smoking. Chronic smokers who switched from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarette vapes saw a significant improvement in their heart health after just one month.
The British scientists discovered that cigarette smokers who switched to nicotine-containing vapes saw a marked boost to their vascular function - a change that could lead to a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
The results within one month of switching from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes showed a significant improvement in endothelial function and vascular stiffness. Females benefited from switching more than males did in every between-group comparison.
Those who complied best with the e-cigarette switch demonstrated the largest improvement, rather than those who still smoked as well as vaping.
There was no difference in vascular effects between e-cigarettes with and without nicotine within the study timeframe.
Professor Jacob George of Dundee University’s cardiovascular medicine and therapeutics department said the study showed that switching from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes may be considered a harms reduction measure. Vaping is healthier than smoking.
“It is crucial to emphasize that e-cigarettes are not safe, just less harmful than tobacco cigarettes when it comes to vascular health,” Professor George said. “They should not be seen as harmless devices for non-smokers or young people to try.”
It’s never too late to quit. You can take action today.
If you know any smokers, please pass this info on to them. You could help save their life.