This Bad Habit Makes You 7 Times More Likely to Get COVID, Study Says

If you want to lower your risk, there's no time like the present to nix this from your routine.

There are plenty of daily habits that can increase your risk of catching coronavirus, whether you're opting to not wear a mask when you venture outside or are being less than diligent about your hand hygiene. However, new research suggests that there's one habit in particular that can cause your chances of developing COVID to soar: smoking. And it's not just traditional tobacco cigarettes that make you more vulnerable; a new study from the University of California, San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education reveals that vaping can significantly increase your risk, too.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, looked at a group of 4,351 study subjects ranging from 13 to 24 years old. What the researchers found was that patients who smoked e-cigarettes were five times more likely to develop coronavirus than those who abstained. But among individuals who had smoked both e-cigarettes and tobacco-based cigarettes in the past 30 days, the risk of developing coronavirus was 6.8 times higher than that of non-smokers.

"Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn't true among those who vape," the study's lead author, postdoctoral scholar Shivani Mathur Gaiha, PhD, said in a statement. "This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it's not just a small increase in risk; it's a big one."

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So, what is it about smoking that makes a person's risk of developing COVID skyrocket? The study's researchers noted that the nicotine and other chemicals in vape cartridges and tobacco cigarettes have been shown to reduce lung function, making smokers more susceptible to respiratory illnesses like COVID.

Additionally, both e-cigarettes and tobacco-based ones require smokers to repeatedly move their hands to their mouths, potentially allowing for contaminated respiratory droplets to enter their system.

young woman outside clutching chest
Shutterstock/Pearl PhotoPix

However, there was another surprising trend among smokers, according to the study: They were more likely to get tested for the virus, too. While vapers and cigarette smokers were 3.3 and 3.9 times more likely to get tested than non-smokers, respectively, subjects who had used both e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes in the past 30 days were nine times more likely to get a COVID test. And if you want to protect yourself, avoid these 24 Things You're Doing Every Day That Put You at COVID Risk.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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