Nicotine May Fight COVID-19

Our team never thought we would need to start a blog with a disclaimer like this. But, we want to say, we unequivocally do not suggest anyone should use tobacco products or vape for their health. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. It’s at least as hard to quit as heroin. It is a stimulant that can increase your pulse, blood pressure and breathing rate. It can damage the pancreas. It also increases blood clots, plaque build-up and enlarges the aorta. It has many other side effects and is a dangerous drug. Do not start using nicotine for your health.

However, it might be a useful tool in fighting COVID-19. Much like opiate drugs should never be used without the advice of a doctor, researchers suggest there may be a use for nicotine in a clinical setting.

Doctors noticed a trend. In China, well over half of the men smoke. And yet, very few of the people admitted to hospital in China were smokers. Researchers think nicotine might be lowering inflammation. Another belief is that nicotine prevents the virus from binding with cells.

French doctors noticed that, of COVID-19 patients in Parisian hospitals, only 8.5 percent were smokers. Approximately 25.4 percent of people in France smoke. They want to test nicotine patches on front line health care workers to see if it lessens their risk of infection. And they want to use them on people who are ill to see if it helps their recovery. Ethically, they cannot expose people to COVID-19, by using people who are high risk or ill already, they can get more information. They will also have people using placebo patches to have a control group. They are waiting on approval to start their test.

The news has people in France rushing to buy nicotine patches. The government had to stop the online sale of them to prevent scarcity. People who are actually trying to quit need to have access to them. And, if the test shows positive results, the nicotine may be needed in hospitals to slow the spread of disease and possibly help people who are ill.

The researchers are concerned about people taking up tobacco as a way to protect themselves. Tobacco kills more than eight million people a year — seven million of whom are tobacco users, and the others are second-hand smoke-related. The suggestion that people could turn to tobacco products horrifies researchers. “That would be catastrophic,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Changeux Changeux, who is involved with the study. Some of the data shows that being a smoker may worsen your symptoms if you do become ill. So, listen to your doctor’s advice about smoking until we have conclusive results and guidelines on the use of nicotine in the fight against COVID-19.
May 04, 2020
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