BENGALURU : Tobacco is a known risk factor for many respiratory infections and its usage increases the severity of respiratory diseases, said Dr C Ramachandra, director of Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology.
In a press release issued to mark the World No Tobacco Day (May 31), Dr Ramachandra said, “Covid-19 is an infectious disease that primarily attacks the lungs and smoking impairs lung functioning making it harder for the body to fight coronavirus and other diseases.”
A review of studies by public health experts convened by the World Health Organisation on April 29 last year found that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with Covid-19 compared to non-smokers. “Tobacco is also a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at a higher risk of developing severe illness when affected by Covid-19,” said Dr Ramachandra, adding that available research suggests that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and leading to death.
He added that WHO urges researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious about amplifying unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of Covid-19.
There is insufficient information to confirm any link between tobacco/nicotine in the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 as it is being claimed, the note further read.
Over 3,000 cases of tobacco-related cancers are registered in Kidwai each year. Most of these cases seek cancer care at an advanced stage of disease where curative treatment is elusive. According to the Bangalore Population Based Cancer Registry, the average age adjusted incidence rate of tobacco-related cancer is 40 per 1,00,000 persons among men and 21 per 1,00,000 persons among women.