Coronavirus: smokers face higher risk of severe infection
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    Coronavirus: smokers face higher risk of severe infection

    Smoking could increase the risk of a more severe coronavirus infection. Credit: Pixabay.

    Smokers have a higher risk of developing a severe form of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), the Foundation against Cancer communicated on Friday, basing its information on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    While there is no proof that smokers are at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus, the study shows that smokers are more susceptible to develop complications once infected, possibly leading to artificial respiration or even a need for resuscitation.

    “More than ever, we are recommending smokers to quit smoking in order for their organisms to be able to optimally resist infections. The health crisis is a good motivation to quit smoking, for you and for others, your relatives and the medical staff,” advocated Dr. Anne Boucquiau, spokesperson for the prevention of tobacco at the Foundation against Cancer.

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    As the Foundation against Cancer explained, smoking damages the cilia in the lungs, the proper functioning of which is necessary to eliminate dust, bacteria, viruses and mucus. Once these cilia are exposed to smoke, they become paralysed or damaged and we lose an important protection mechanism.

    After a few days without smoking, “the protection mechanism of the cilia will start to repair itself and you will be able to better recuperate in case of an infection. That’s already a solid argument for quitting smoking,” she continued.

    The Foundation against Cancer is asking the government to include smoking cessation in its prevention guidelines against coronavirus.

    American news organisation ABC News reported in a recent article that smoking could be one explanation for Italy’s high death toll, which stood at nearly 3,000 on 19 March, pointing to a study from 2017 which “suggests that more than 21% of Italians are smokers, compared to less than 14% in the U.S.”

    The Foundation against Cancer’s message is not the first warning that smoking might aggravate the condition of those with coronavirus. For example, the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education of the University of California San Francisco communicated that you can “reduce your risk of serious lung disease caused by coronavirus by quitting smoking and vaping.”

    If you want to quit smoking, Tabacstop can be found online or by telephone at 0800 111 00.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times