Regular e-cigarette users exhibit altered immune responses to influenza viruses, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These results are even more interesting at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world.
Indeed, in recent months, many questions have been asked about the possible increased risk of infections caused by these viruses among users of electronic cigarettes, but there have rarely been definitive answers, as Meghan Rebuli points out, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the American University.
The researcher analyzed several participants by comparing regular users of electronic cigarettes with smokers of traditional cigarettes and smokers.
The study participants were between 18 and 40 years old. All participants were inoculated with an attenuated influenza virus in order to safely understand their bodies’ immune responses. After inoculation, the researchers then analyzed nasal fluid and other biomarkers by comparing this data between the different components of the three different groups.
The results, later published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, show that people who regularly “bust” e-cigarettes exhibit more changes in the immune genes of virus-fighting respiratory cells. They also show a suppressed level of antibody.
The study focused on influenza viruses, but these results suggest that e-cigarette users, as well as traditional smokers, are likely to be more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus than non-smokers. .
“Using electronic cigarettes is not safe or safer than cigarettes, and that’s a really important message to take home,” Rebuli explains. “You probably shouldn’t inhale tobacco related products; it affects your immune response to viruses.