Smoking affects immunity, increases Covid-19 risk: Experts

Apart from these diseases, smoking tobacco can also affect your gums and lead to several gum-related diseases.

New Delhi, May 30 : If you smoke tobacco, then it is high time to crush and throw it away forever as health experts on Sunday warned that it can put you at high risk of Covid-19 by affecting your body’s immunity.

According to experts, smoking impairs lung function, thereby reducing immunity and making it harder for the body to fight off various diseases.

“In general smokers have depressed or disturbed immune systems in the form of non-specific immune defence mechanisms in the body like natural killer cells, mast cells and macrophages,” Anshuman Kumar, Director Surgical Oncology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS.

“Smoking slows down the formation of specific defence mechanisms in the form of cellular (T cells, B cells), humoral circulating antibodies,” Kumar added.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which is observed on May 31, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said that smokers have up to a 50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease and death from Covid-19.

J.B. Sharma, HOD and Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Action Cancer Hospital, New Delhi, said that Covid-19 primarily affects lungs and with compromised health of lungs, a chronic smoker is surely at the higher risk of Covid-19’s severity.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, tobacco use is a major risk factor for the four main Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) — cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes.

Apart from these diseases, smoking tobacco can also affect your gums and lead to several gum-related diseases.

“Smokers are three to six times more likely to develop gum diseases or periodontal disease as it decreases the blood supply in the gum. They are also six times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers,” Pranshu Tripathi, MDS, JR Dental, Dwarka, New Delhi, told IANS.

Therefore, experts find a need for smokers to visit a counsellor or a mental health expert as individually delivered smoking cessation counselling can help them quit this unhealthy habit.

“There are nicotine gums available to control the urges of taking tobacco, apart from that counselling and mental health experts are also available,” Kumar said.

Tobacco cessation therapy is majorly divided into two parts — psycho counseling and medicinal therapy.

As per Vaishakhi Mallik, Associate Director, Vital Strategies, public education campaigns are a critical tactic to highlight the health harms of tobacco use, support cessation efforts and addressing the tobacco epidemic.

(Vivek Singh Chauhan can be reached at [email protected])

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