Posted in coronavirus, Covid-19, Health, news, smoking

Does Nicotine Protect Against Coronavirus?

French researchers are testing whether nicotine can protect people against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Due to recent encouraging data demonstrating a minority of hospitalized patients to be smokers, they will test nicotine patches on patients and front line healthcare workers to see if their virus susceptibility is decreased.


The Guardian reports that French researchers at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital interviewed 480 patients, 350 of whom needed hospitalization and 130, who were well enough to go home, and found only 4.4% of hospitalized patients infected with coronavirus were smokers. 1/4 of French citizens currently smoke.

They also report a Chinese study published at the end of March in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggested only 12.6% of 1,000 people infected with the virus were smokers while the number of smokers in China is around 28%.

Since this pandemic began, however, medical experts have been urging people to avoid smoking and vaping, feeling the lungs could be more suceptible to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Yet in light of hospital reports suggesting non-smokers to be more severely affected, researchers are theorizing that the nicotine in tobacco products may be instead protective.

A study by Changeux et al suggests:

Nicotine receptors may play a role in how the virus infects a host.  They suggest that the virus could enter the body through neurons of the olfactory system and/or through the lung leading to different clinical features with different outcome, and contrasts with the currently accepted view that ACE2 is the principal receptor of SARS-CoV-2 for its entry into cells.

Study authors further state:

One should not forget that nicotine is a drug of abuse [55] responsible for smoking addiction. Smoking has severe pathological consequences and remains a serious danger for health. Yet under controlled settings, Nicotinic agents could provide an efficient treatment for an acute infection such as Covid-19.

Some studies have found a relationship between smoking and decreased incidence of Parkinson’s disease, obesity and ulcerative colitis.

However risks of smoking and tobacco use include heart disease, respiratory failure, cancer, blood clots, and stroke…to name a few.

So it will take some time before the medical community will come to a consensus on smoking and SARS-CoV-2. But for now, researchers are fighting this silent killer with everything they’ve got so we may have to prepared and open minded that unconventional treatments may hold the key to winning this war.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.


Posted in Health, news, smoking, vaping

Vaping Linked to Cobalt Lung

This week researchers at the University of California San Francisco report a first case of “Cobalt Lung”, or hard metal pneumoconiosis, in a woman who vaped a marijuana pen for 6 months.

The 49 year-old retired dog trainer had suffered from coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath but did not have a previous industrial profession in which she could have been exposed to “cobalt dust.”  When pathology of her lung tissue revealed giant white blood cells and scar tissue, they looked to the vapor she inhaled and found toxic metals including cobalt, along with lead, manganese, aluminum and nickel.


Published in the European Respiratory Journal, study authors suggest the damage from the inhaled metals may be “permanent.”


Last year a study revealed that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:

  • lead
  • nickel
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • arsenic

We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).

Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source  low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”

These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure.  Moreover they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.

Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.

Vaping Creates New Dangerous Chemicals That Become Inhaled

If you remember back in chemistry class, many reactions may transfer heat, or create heat when they combust.  Well the latest study on vaping finds various flavorings in e-cigs, when heated by the heating element, convert to a chemical called acetal.

Yale University Researchers found 2/3 of the time the acetal makes it into the vapor one breaths when they vape.

For years we’ve been trying to warn vapers that the e-cig liquid is not the final product as it can be completely transformed with heat.

Flavors such as “Crème Brulée,” “Fruit Medley,” and “Cool Cucumber” were evaluated for their acetal production.  Vanillin, used in flavoring to make vanilla flavor, has been found to irritate lung linings, and may be one of the biggest culprits when vaping.

According to the National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine Database, they report the following in regards to risk factors:

Reported Fatal Dose: 
[Gosselin, R.E., R.P. Smith, H.C. Hodge. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. 5th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1984., p. II-183] **PEER REVIEWED** 

Now this would be a large amount, but any amount to me is interfering with the one job lungs are designed to do….oxygenate one’s blood.



ultimate book cover final

Great Gift!!!

The Ultimate Medical Student HandBook


Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.



Posted in Health, news, smoking, vaping

Can’t Stop Vaping or Smoking….Tips to Quitting

Some of you are trying to get a head start before the family makes you come up with a New Year’s resolution to quit vaping and smoking.  So you’ve cut back on tobacco and nicotine and have decided to quit.  Awesome!    Within the first half hour of quitting, studies have found your blood pressure and heart rate improve, so your health starts to improve immediately!

So, way to go!!!!  But now what?  It’s not that easy.  You’ve got cravings.

Not being able to manage these cravings can put you at risk of relapsing back into nicotine dependence.

Withdrawal from nicotine can manifest in any of the following:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • headaches
  • hand tingling
  • increase appetite
  • sleep disturbances
  • constipation
  • mood changes
  • poor concentration
  • memory loss

and more.

Firstly don’t be afraid to get help if you need to.  Nicotine is a powerful, addictive drug and retraining your body to not ask for it is a challenging process. offers multiple resources to help one quit smoking/vaping.

Your medical provider can offer you nicotine replacement therapy to help you wean slowly, or medications such as (brand names) Chantix and Wellbutrin that can help you with your cravings as you cut back or quit.

Therapy and counselling can also be very beneficial while you are weaning off nicotine.

But some of you will want to quit cold turkey.  How do you manage the cravings then?

So we break this down into biological and psychological factors.

Biologically, we can hit this a few ways.  One, is the food choices you make can help with your cravings.

Vegetables like celery and carrots are great quick-to-grab veggies when you’re in a bind. Citrus fruits like oranges work well. Bananas with their vitamin B and potassium melt in your mouth and don’t leave room for a cigarette.  Potatoes have potassium and when not loaded up with butter and cheese are….well… not as yummy.

Peppermint is good at curbing cravings, so when you’re walking out of a restaurant don’t forget to grab some of those free candies sitting there.  Ginsing and ginger help with cravings as well, and don’t forget fiber.  Stuffing your mouth with oats, bran and fibrous foods keep you so busy trying to pick them out of your teeth that you are too exhausted to smoke.  Top all of this with lots and lots of water, and you’ll find yourself off the nicotine in no time.

Let’s celebrate.  Some one grab me a beer….no wait! No alcohol!  Alcohol fuels your cravings as does meat and caffeine.  Sorry, I never said it would be easy.

Exercise also helps because it will help you keep busy, increase your endorphins and works on the weight gain that might accompany smoking cessation.  Take a nice stroll every time you feel the need to grab a cigarette.

Which transitions nicely into psychological ways to quit.

Distraction is huge.  As the cravings come on, distract yourself by exercise, reading, dancing, or writing about your journey towards a smoke-free life to help others.

Have index cards written out with reasons to quit.

Have a disgusting picture of tobacco-destroyed lung in the kitchen or wherever you get the urge to smoke.

And get your friends and coworkers on board to help. If they vape/smoke in front of you, it will make it that much harder.  Have a friend, family member designated as your support guide who texts you encouraging messages throughout the day as you try to quit. Remind them that the content cannot include chores or reminders to pick things up on the way home.  There……if these tricks don’t help you quit vaping/smoking, at least you can use them to get out of chores…..


ultimate book cover final

Great Gift!!!

The Ultimate Medical Student HandBook


Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.