Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have recently uncovered a potential explanation for why smokers experience worse symptoms from the same flu virus than non smokers. Traditionally, it was thought that smokers had compromised immune systems, but this study found the reverse to be true in mice. Mice were exposed to the equivalent of two cigarettes per day for two weeks, then given a mock flu virus. Rather than a decreased immune response, the mice had an overreactive immune response. Their bodies went into overdrive to sweep the virus from their systems. This overstimulation results in more inflammation and tissue scarring which lead to diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema.
The research article can be found at The Yale School of Medicine.
A full copy of the press release can be found at Eureka Alert.