David Hockney says smoking cigarettes could PROTECT against coronaviruses

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When world renowned artist David Hockney wrote a letter to the Daily Mail saying he believed that smoking could protect people from the coronavirus, which many laughed at.

Mr. Hockney wrote, “Isn’t it possible that smokers have developed an immune system against this virus? With all these numbers coming out, it’s starting to look like that to me.

Naturally, the claim was viewed as laughable and “trash” by many.

But is it?

A prominent infectious disease specialist at University College London, Professor François Balloux, said there was “strangely solid” evidence that this could be true.

And data from several Chinese studies show that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 contained a lower proportion of smokers than the general population (6.5% versus 26.6%), which suggests that they were less likely to smoke. meet up at the hospital.

Another study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of more than 7,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus found that only 1.3% of them were smokers – compared to the 14 percent of all Americans the CDC says they smoke.

The study also found that smokers were more likely to end up in the hospital or ICU.

The reasons for this are unclear.

The evidence from scientific studies is contradictory and some say that doctors are too busy to accurately record everyone’s smoking habits.

Some researchers suggest that smoking may reverse one of the ways COVID-19 damages the lungs, while others argue that damage to the lungs from smoke makes organs more vulnerable to failure.

The governments of the United Kingdom and the United States are urging people to quit smoking to protect themselves from the virus, but scientists admit there is no clear evidence that cigarettes can make the disease worse.

Quirky artist David Hockney, who is a smoker himself, asked in a letter to the Daily Mail:

Quirky artist David Hockney, who is a smoker himself, asked in a letter to the Daily Mail, “Could it not be that smokers have developed an immune system against this virus?

LETTER FROM DAVID HOCKNEY TO THE DAILY MAIL

I used to joke that being a smoker in Malibu was the equivalent of being a non-smoker in Pasadena. They used to have very bad pollution there.

Could it be that smokers have developed an immune system to this virus?

With all these numbers coming out, it’s starting to look like that to me. I’m serious – and remember that cigars and cigarettes are vegan.

David Hockney, Normandy.

In his letter, Mr. Hockney wrote, “I used to joke that being a smoker in Malibu was the equivalent of being a non-smoker in Pasadena. They used to have very bad pollution there.

“Isn’t it possible that smokers have developed an immune system against this virus? With all these numbers coming out, it’s starting to look like that to me.

The British artist, now 82 years old and living in France, adds “I am serious” and revealed in the past that he had been smoking for more than 60 years but still considered himself in good health.

About 1.1 billion people around the world smoke cigarettes despite evidence that they cause lung cancer, heart disease and many other life-threatening illnesses.

However, it is not clear if they increase the likelihood of ending up in the hospital or dying if they get COVID-19.

A study released earlier this month by scientists from New York and Athens says the opposite.

He examined 13 Chinese studies that had registered smoking as a prerequisite and found that the number of smokers in the entire sample of 5,300 patients was 6.5%. A surprisingly low number in a country where half of the men still smoke.

“This preliminary analysis does not support the argument that current smoking is a risk factor for hospitalization for COVID-19,” he said.

“Instead, these consistent observations, which are further underlined by the low prevalence of current smoking among COVID-19 patients in the United States (1.3%), suggest that nicotine may have beneficial effects on COVID-19. “

A group of Chinese studies found that the average proportion of coronavirus patients classified as smokers - out of a total of nearly 6,000 people - was only 6.5%. By comparison, more than 26% of the country's population as a whole are smokers

A group of Chinese studies found that the average proportion of coronavirus patients classified as smokers – out of a total of nearly 6,000 people – was only 6.5%. By comparison, more than 26% of the country’s population as a whole are smokers

WHAT IS AN ACE-2 RECEIVER AND WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH COVID-19?

ACE-2 receptors are structures on the surface of cells in the lungs and airways that work with an enzyme called ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) to regulate blood pressure.

Its exact function in the lungs is not well understood, but studies suggest that it protects against lung damage and that its low levels can worsen the impact of viral infections.

Scientists say the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 enters the body through the ACE-2 receptor, to which its shape allows it to cling.

This means that a person with more ACE-2 receptors may be more sensitive to a large viral load – the first infectious dose of a virus – entering their bloodstream.

ACE-2 receptors have a shape that matches the outside of the coronavirus, effectively providing it with a gateway into the bloodstream, scientists say.

ACE-2 receptors have a shape that matches the outside of the coronavirus, effectively providing it with a gateway into the bloodstream, scientists say.

People who have a higher number of ACE-2 receptors than usual may include those with diabetes or high blood pressure because they have genetic defects that make them more productive. New evidence shows that smokers can also produce more.

However, high levels of ACE-2 receptors can also be protective.

They are thought to be able to protect the lungs during infection and a 2008 mouse study found that mice that had ACE-2 blocked in their bodies suffered more damage when they got infected. by SARS, which is almost identical to COVID-19.

In the past, smoking has been repeatedly linked to lower than normal ACE-2 receptor levels, which could increase the risk of lung damage from COVID-19.

The document has not been reviewed by other scientists and admits that it is based on limited data, but says that nicotine and the coronavirus both interact with the same receptors on cells inside the lungs. .

It was produced by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos and Dr. Anastasia Barbouni of the University of West Attica in Athens and Dr. Raymond Niaura of the University of New York.

They suggest that, although the virus causes damage to the lungs by decreasing the number of these receptors – called ACE-2 receptors – smoking may increase the number of them, reversing the effect.

The ACE-2 receptors, which are found on cells in the airways and lungs, are thought to function as the gateway for the coronavirus into the body and “facilitate” infection.

Therefore, having more seems to be a bad thing, but scientists say they have a protective effect in the lungs and that low levels are linked to more serious damage from a viral infection.

A 2008 study in mice found that eliminating ACE-2 made animals more likely to experience severe breathing difficulties when infected with the SARS virus, which is almost identical to COVID-19 . The function of ACE-2 in the human lungs is poorly understood.

Dr. Farsalinos’ study was shared on Twitter by Professor François Balloux, director of the Institute of Genetics at University College London.

Professor Balloux described the document as “confusing” and added: “Although the study design is far from perfect – and the authors are clear about its limits – evidence of a protective effect from smoking ( or nicotine) against COVID-19 are strangely strong … actually much stronger than any drug tested at this stage … ‘

It’s a statement that’s emerging around the world.

The French scientist, Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads a scientific council advising the country’s government on COVID-19, said: “We have something very special with tobacco.

“We have found that the vast majority of serious cases are not smokers, as if (…) tobacco protects against this virus, via nicotine,” reported the French news site Sud Ouest.

Dr. Farsalinos’ study adds as an explanation: “A decrease in the availability of ACE-2 has been observed to contribute to lung damage and the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

“Therefore, higher expression of ACE-2, although seemingly paradoxical, may protect against acute lung damage caused by COVID-19.”

This is a controversial area of ​​science – studies show that smoking can both increase and decrease the levels of ACE-2 available in a person’s lung cells.

An increase before infection could allow more viruses to enter the body in the first place, making someone more vulnerable to the disease.

An article published by scientists at University College London offers the opposite view to Dr. Farsalinos.

WHAT DO STUDIES SHOW ON SMOKERS WITH COVID-19?

A team of scientists from Harvard University in Boston and the University of Crete in Greece reviewed five of the earliest studies on the links between smoking and COVID-19.

They found that smokers were at greater risk of complications, but others suggested that they were less likely to be infected in the first place.

In all of the studies, less than 15% of the patients were smokers – a figure that contrasts with the smoking rate in China, which is between 20 and 26% and almost half of the men.

The evidence review, led by Dr. Constantine Vardavas of Harvard, was published in the journal Tobacco Induced Diseases.

Here’s what he found:

STUDY 1

How many people were involved?

78 patients in 3 hospitals in Wuhan, China

How many of them were smokers?

Not clear

Where were the results published?

Chinese medical journal

What did he find?

Patients who progressed to a serious illness had a “significantly” higher number of smokers than patients who improved – 27% versus 3%

STUDY 2

How many people were involved?

1,099 in 552 hospitals across China

How many of them were smokers?

In total, 12.6% (137) were current smokers and 1.9% (21) were former smokers.

Where were the results published?

New England Medical Journal

What did he find?

Of the 173 patients with severe symptoms, 16.9% (29) were current smokers and 5.2% (nine) were former smokers.

In comparison, 11.8% (108) of 926 with milder symptoms were current smokers, and 1.3% (12) were former smokers.

In the group of patients who required mechanical ventilation, intensive care admission or who died, 25.5% were current smokers and 7.6% were former smokers.

This is more than double the proportion of patients who did not require intensive care, of which 11.8% were current smokers and 1.6% were former smokers.

STUDY 3

How many people were involved?

140 in a Wuhan hospital

How many of them were smokers?

6.4% were current smokers (two) or former smokers (seven).

Where were the results published?

Allergy

What did he find?

Of the 58 critically ill patients, 3.4% (two people) were current smokers and 6.9% (four) were former smokers.

In comparison, of the 82 with milder symptoms, none was a current smoker and 3.7% (three) were former smokers.

STUDY 4:

How many people were involved?

191 in two hospitals in Wuhan

How many of them were smokers?

Six percent (11 people) were current smokers

Where were the results published?

The Lancet

What did he find?

Of those who died (54), nine percent (five) were current smokers. Of those who survived, four percent (six people) were smokers.

STUDY 5

How many people were involved?

41 in a hospital in Wuhan

How many of them were smokers?

Seven percent (three people) were current smokers

Where were the results published?

The Lancet

What did he find?

None of the 13 patients who were to be admitted to intensive care was a current smoker. In contrast, 11% (three) of those who did not require intensive care were smokers.

He said: “SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to enter cells via the ACE-2 receptor.

“There is some evidence to suggest that gene expression and subsequent receptor levels are elevated in the airways and orals [cells] current smokers, which puts smokers at a higher risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2.

“Other studies show, however, that nicotine downregulates the ACE-2 receptor. “

UCL addiction researcher Professor Jamie Brown and one of the authors who wrote this document told MailOnline that the link was “very difficult to understand.”

“Everything we know about other respiratory viruses and co-morbidities [health problems] suggests that smokers will experience worse results, “he said.

It was only recently – an article published this year claims to be the first – that scientists began to record that smoking increases the levels of ACE-2 in the airways.

It has already been reported to lower levels, which researchers have linked to worsening lung damage in coronavirus infections.

Although higher levels of the receptor may offer some protection in theory, they also offer more doors through which the virus can enter the body.

The European Respiratory Journal study said, “While upregulation of ACE-2 may be helpful in protecting the host from acute lung damage, it may predispose individuals to an increased risk of infections to coronavirus, which uses this receptor to gain entry into epithelial cells. “

Professor Brown added that, given the influence of smoking on other lung infections, he would be “very surprised” if it did not worsen COVID-19.

One document suggested that one reason why children do not appear to be severely affected in general by coronavirus could be that they have more ACE-2 receptors than adults, but added that there are “A lack of evidence to show that the expression ACE-2 varies with age”.

The study by Dr Farsalinos and his colleagues even suggested that withdrawal symptoms from not being able to smoke in the hospital could worsen the symptoms of smokers.

He added: “Hospitalization for COVID-19 will inevitably result in abrupt withdrawal of nicotine and its beneficial effect linked to this assumption in smokers or users of other nicotine products.

“This could, at least in part, explain the association between smoking and the severity of COVID-19 in hospital patients. “

The theory that smokers have some level of protection against the virus comes from raw data from hospitals which suggest that only small proportions of critically ill patients smoke.

Hospitals in China, the United States, Germany and France have admitted hundreds of thousands of coronavirus patients but admitted a disproportionate number of smokers.

According to the campaign group, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, the first data showed that in Germany, 6 to 21%; in France, 6% against 27%.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has shown that of approximately 7,000 COVID-19 patients, former smokers were more likely to be hospitalized or placed in intensive care than current smokers.

Only 22 of the hospital patients and five of the intensive care patients admitted to smoking, while 45 in the hospital and 33 in the ICU said they were former smokers.

Public Health England has not released any information on people diagnosed or hospitalized with a coronavirus in the UK.

Why do scientists say smokers represent such a small proportion of patients when there are many more in countries?

Experts have overturned this theory and say that saying who smokes and who doesn’t smoke was not precise enough.

UCL Professor Brown told MailOnline: “It is difficult to assess the extent to which smoking has been recorded in an emerging epidemic and many of these people have been too ill to respond or have not responded in a manner totally honest. “

He added, “We know that smokers tend to tend to come from low-income groups who have more limited access to health care … so it’s more likely that they will die in the community. “

Professor Paul Hunter, a former NHS doctor and now a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, agreed that the recording was probably to blame.

He told MailOnline, “One interpretation is that smokers are less likely to end up in the hospital.

“But in fact, it indicates more than when you have doctors who are incredibly busy, they don’t complete all the questions they would normally do. “

Professor Hunter added that the notion of smoking could protect people from COVID-19 was “garbage”, but admitted that the link of the ACE-2 receptor deserved further study.

FIRST AMERICAN DATA SHOWS JUST 1.3 PERCENT OF CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS ARE SMOKERS

Initial data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that only 1.3% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 were classified as smokers.

Out of a sample of 7,162 of the country’s first patients, only 96 were “current smokers”. According to the data, only 22 of the 1,037 hospital patients were smokers, as well as five of the 457 in intensive care.

This is in sharp contrast to CDC statistics which show that 14% of all Americans smoke cigarettes regularly.

It is not clear whether there is a link between smoking and a lower risk of getting or getting sick with a coronavirus, or whether the record of who smokes and who is not is not up to par.

Professor Jamie Brown of University College London, a specialist in tobacco and public health, said he expected it to be the last.

He told MailOnline: “It is really difficult to assess the extent to which smoking has been recorded in an emerging epidemic and many of these people have been too sick to answer or may not have answered completely honestly.

“We know that, overall, smokers tend to come from low-income groups who have more limited access to health care and are more likely to die in the community.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has shown that of approximately 7,000 COVID-19 patients, former smokers were more likely to be hospitalized or placed in intensive care than current smokers.

Data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that of approximately 7,000 COVID-19 patients, former smokers were more likely to be hospitalized or placed in intensive care than current smokers.

A study of 41 patients from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan found that none of the 13 patients who needed to be admitted to intensive care were currently smokers. In contrast, 11% (three) of those who did not require intensive care were smokers

A study of 41 patients from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan found that none of the 13 patients who were to be admitted to intensive care was currently a smoker. In contrast, 11% (three) of those who did not require intensive care were smokers

A study of 552 hospitals across China, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that of the 173 patients with severe symptoms, 16.9% were current smokers and 5.2% had ever smoked. In comparison, among patients with milder symptoms, 11.8% were current smokers and 1.3% were former smokers.

A study of 552 hospitals across China, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that of the 173 patients with severe symptoms, 16.9% were current smokers and 5.2% had ever smoked. In comparison, among patients with milder symptoms, 11.8% were current smokers and 1.3% were former smokers.

A study of 140 coronavirus patients found that of the 58 critically ill patients, 3.4% (two people) were current smokers and 6.9% (four) were former smokers. In comparison, of the 82 with milder symptoms, none was a current smoker and 3.7% (three) were former smokers.

A study of 140 coronavirus patients found that of the 58 critically ill patients, 3.4% (two people) were current smokers and 6.9% (four) were former smokers. In comparison, of the 82 with milder symptoms, none was a current smoker and 3.7% (three) were former smokers.

Researchers from Wuhan University Zhongnan Hospital concluded that only 1.4% of the 140 hospital patients were smokers

Researchers from Wuhan University Zhongnan Hospital concluded that only 1.4% of the 140 hospital patients were smokers

The NYU Grossman School of Medicine study found that only 5% of hospitalizations for coronavirus were current smokers - roughly the same percentage seen in the group who did not require hospital care

NYU Grossman School of Medicine study found that only 5% of coronavirus hospitalizations were current smokers – roughly the same percentage seen in the group who did not require hospital care

SMOKING NOT RELATED TO COMPLICATIONS, NYU STUDY CLAIM

A New York University study found that only 5% of the 4,103 patients admitted to the city with coronaviruses admitted to being smokers.

This figure was much lower than the 15.5% of smokers in the population.

The same proportion of smokers was found in COVID-19 patients who did not require hospitalization, suggesting that they were less likely to be infected with the virus or were not accurately recorded.

The New York study is not the first to find a low number of smokers in COVID-19 hospital admissions.

A team of experts from Wuhan – where the pandemic started – was mystified after discovering that smokers were less likely to get the deadly virus in the first place.

Scientists have called for new trials to clarify if smoking poses a real threat, but generally admit that smokers are more susceptible to infections.

Public Health England has warned users against a higher risk because the tiny hairs inside the airways and lungs, which help keep pathogens and mucus away, are often damaged by toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke.

The new study was published on the archive site medRxiv and not in a journal.

Its authors said, “Surprisingly, although some have speculated that high smoking rates in China explain some of the morbidity in these patients, we have not found that smoking is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization or serious illness. “

New York Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researcher Jason Sheltzer selected Dr. Farsalinos’ paper on Twitter with similar logic, calling the study “seriously flawed.”

He said the metrics for what defined a smoker varied across the world and across the many other studies referenced in the document. One, he said, only classified heavy smokers and not those with lighter habits.

Further analysis of the data, wrote Sheltzer, revealed that smoking actually appeared to be associated with a higher risk of serious infection.

He said, “In order to continue the investigation, I emailed the authors of some of the COVID-19 studies in China. One doctor responded that their frequency of smoking was so low because some patients were literally too sick to answer the question.

“So … it’s clear that in these studies, the definition of a smoker is neither consistent nor applied consistently. You can’t throw them all on a graph and call it a meta-analysis. ”

He added: “In short, I think this analysis is seriously flawed. They compare statistics that should not be compared.

“I don’t think there is convincing evidence that smoking protects against coronaviruses. “

Government bodies are adamant that people should not view the prospect of smoking as a protection against illness, which can be life threatening, especially for people who already have health problems.

Public Health England and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have urged people to quit smoking to protect their health.

British health secretary Matt Hancock said last month: “Research from previous coronaviruses has made it clear that smoking worsens the impact of a coronavirus. “

And his chief medical advisor, Professor Chris Whitty, added, “If you want to quit smoking, this is a great time to do it. “



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