How Cigarette Smoke Compromises The Immune System


Study shows why cigarette smoke makes flu, other viral infections worse

In a previous article we showed how nicotine can play a part in helping the immune system, in this one we will do an overview of a study about how smoking does the exact opposite in regards to the immune system. We all know that smoking is bad long term, but smoking can affect you in the immediate short term as well, long before it starts mutating human cells causing cancers.
Highlights of this study:
“A new study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine could explain why the cold and flu virus symptoms that are often mild and transient in non-smokers can seriously sicken smokers. Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the study also identified the mechanism by which viruses and cigarette smoke interact to increase lung inflammation and damage.”
“The prevailing view has been that cigarette smoke decreases anti-viral responses.”

“The anti-viral responses in the cigarette smoke exposed mice were not only not defective, but were hyperactive” 

“The team found that mice with viral infections that had been exposed to cigarette smoke had accelerated emphysema and airway scarring. Elias and his team also defined the signaling pathway that mediates this exaggerated innate immune response.”

It is clear from the study that if you smoke you should not be surprised that you catch a cold or the flu. According to the article which goes back to 2008, there are at least 2 ways in which smoking affects the immune system:

  1. Anti-viral response gets defective
  2. Anti-viral response gets hyperactive

With the threat of new viruses and how some viruses can have an extremely high transmissibility rate, everyone should do their best to stay healthy in both the short and long term. Perhaps this study can help smokers to give them additional motivation to quit because it’s never too late!

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