Smoking, asthma and atopy

This is a post that will get some debate. One of the biggest cards that the anti tobacco crowd play is the “but I have asthma” gambit. I have done some research and it may literally be all in the mind. Please feel free to disagree with me, but please provide some papers that back up your hypothesis.

Firstly nicotine suppresses asthma, see study on Norwegian rats.

Secondly there are numerous studies that show that smokers and children of smokers have substantially less asthma, please see Swedish study.

Thirdly there is a condition called psychosomaticism. It is where the mind believes something is going to happen and the body mimics the physical effects even though there is no exposure. Scientists believe that asthma itself has a psychosomatic facet in its adoption. They found that many asthmatics had and overbearing and controlling parent. See link.

Fourthly the amount breathed in by non smokers is minimal, 0.1%-1% at the very most.

So in conclusion it is quite possible that asthma attacks brought on by smoking are literally in the mind of the athmatic.

“To ascertain the effects of nicotine on allergy/asthma, Brown Norway rats were treated with nicotine and sensitized and challenged with allergens. The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE.”

“Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.…pubmed/ 11422156

“The most common psychosomatic respiratory illness is asthma. Marked by recurrent bronchial constriction, edema, and excessive secretion, the clinical picture is manifested by recurrent attacks of dyspnea and prolonged expirations with wheezing and coughing. During the attack, the patient usually is tense, anxious, and frightened in the face of experiencing a lack of availability of vital air.”

“The most highly exposed workers, both living and working with smokers, would potentially inhale over 20 cigarette equivalents (CE) per annum as based on the upper decile levels. Housewives living with smokers could inhale up to 11 CE per annum as based on the upper decile levels. Locations outside the workplace, including the home, contribute most to overall RSP and ETS particle exposure. Consideration should be given to extending the personal monitoring period in cities where levels appear to be quite low.”


This entry was posted in Smoking and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Smoking, asthma and atopy

  1. Magnetic says:

    There is a fair amount of information on psychogenic effects in the book “Rampant Antismoking Signifies Grave Danger” ( the book is available free to download at )
    Asthma and psychogenic effects – p.297-305;
    Environmental Somatization Syndrome – p.371-388.

    Concerning tobacco-smoke “allergy”, there are no allergens (proteins) in tobacco smoke (or any typically-encountered smoke). It is very-highly likely that those claiming smoke “allergy” are experiencing psychogenic effects. Unfortunately, there are [usually antismoking, naïve] medicos with no psychological aptitude that are encouraging and legitimizing this “allergy” neurosis.

  2. Frank says:

    I’m no medico but when I was young (50’s & 60’s) asthma was, by the populous, generally blamed on nerves and/or ‘home’ background. Smoking was never mentioned.

    Given the above, it doesn’t seem to be too far out, i.e. it’s been known for ages.

  3. Klaus K says:

    Smoking and passive smoking linked to reduced allergic sensitization, says a 32-year prospective study from New Zealand, 2008:

    • Frank Davis says:

      60 years or more ago, doctors would prescribe smoking for asthmatics, according to Dr William Whitby in The Smoking Scare Debunked.

      Chapter 5

      When I was young, doctors often prescribed smoking for the relief of asthma, but these days this has gone out of fashion. It is interesting to read a report from Dr. F.E. de W. Cayley of the Brighton Chest Clinic, England, in the British Medical Journal (January 14th 1978) in which he said, “It has become apparent that type 3 allergy is commoner in non-smokers and it is thought that the effect of smoking may produce a protective lining of mucus so that the allergen does not reach the bronchial mucosa. I have seen two patients this month who developed type 1 allergy as soon as they gave up smoking. Should we therefore encourage our asthmatic patients to smoke? Many chronic bronchitic patients find that the first cigarette of the day clears their lungs and gets rid of all their sputum and they are free for the next few hours,”

  4. Tony says:

    I have a “Newnes Family Health Encyclopaedia” dating from 1960. It is about 900 pages long and has a large entry on asthma. Obviously it is very out of date but that is why it is interesting. This is what it says with respect to asthma and smoking:

    “Inhalations of burning powders or cigarettes, though they may give temporary relief, are apt to set up irritation in the bronchi, and are not now recommended”

    Seeming to confirm that they used to be recommended.

    It also emphasises that anxiety is at least as important a factor as any physical allergy.

    I would suggest that this confirms that fear of ETS is the trigger. In other words the anti-smoking propaganda is the underlying problem.

  5. Walt says:

    Treatment of Asthma by Nicotinic Acid – 1943 50-100 mg by shot or intravenous; aborted attacks, led to fewer and less frequent attacks in half the subjects.

    This 2008 paper concludes that nictotine and hence active smoking and passive smoking leads to less asthma. It explains why nicotine helps and the biologial process by which it does;

    “Nicotine is an anti-inflammatory, but the association between smoking and asthma is highly contentious and some report that smoking cessation increases the risk of asthma in ex-smokers….

    “The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE…..[Additionally] it significantly decreased mucus content in bronchoalveolar lavage,These results suggest that nicotine modulates allergy/asthma primarily by suppressing eosinophil trafficking and suppressing Th2 cytokine/chemokine responses without reducing goblet cell metaplasia or mucous production and may explain the lower risk of allergic diseases in smokers. To our knowledge this is the first direct evidence that nicotine modulates allergic responses.

    “Nicotine Primarily Suppresses Lung Th2 but not goblet cell or muscle cell responses to allergens.”
    Mishra et al, Lovelace Respiratory Research Inst, Alburquerque,
    Journal of Immunology, 2008; 180

  6. Walt says:

    “Psychological Factors in Asthma….” Cohen, S,
    Postgrad Med J. 1971 August; 47(550): 533–540.

    Direct quote from the above:
    “Luparello et al(1968) measured changes in airway resistance directly by body plethysmography. They showed that asthmatic subjects reacted with increased airway resistance when given nebulized saline to inhale and told it was the allergen the patient had previously stated was associated with his attacks. 19 of 40 asthmatics showed a significant increase in airway resistance and 12 developed attacks of bronchial spasm which were reversed with an inhaled saline placebo.

    “In a later study (Luparello, 1970). suggestion alone was shown to have a powerful effect on the bronchi. In this study, isoprenaline and carbachol were each presented to 20 asthmatic subjects by inhalation. Each drug was presented twice under double-blind conditions. In one presentation, the subject was told that it was a bronchodilator that would open his airways and make it easier to breathe and in the other, he was told it was a bronchoconstrictor. The suggestion produced significant changes in response to the drugs in the direction that had been suggested.”

    This leads the author (Cohen) to opine about studies on the subject of conditioning that showed that hay fever sufferers who knew a particular flower caused attacks could get an attack by merely being shown a paper imitation of that flower. Citing Vaughn, 1939 and an 1886 (not a typo) study by MacKenzie.

    Per “Anxiety Reduction in Asthma” Kinsman et al, Psychcosom Res, 1980

    Click to access 397.pdf

    Luparello’s findings were repeated by:

    Spector et al “Response of asthmatics to methacholine and suggestion,” Am Rev Resp Dis, 113; 1976

    Strupp et al, “Effects of suggestion on total respiratory resistance in mild asthmatics,” Psychosom Res, 18; 1974

    Phillipp et al “Suggestion and relaxation in asthmatics,” Psychosom Res 16; 1972

  7. I would only caution (not concern troll) Dave Altherton about being cynically tagged a bully for accusing poor defenseless children of being liars. The puritans do have a rather disturbing zeal to strap the wee folk to their brave chests as they do battle against the evil tobacco overlords or whatever they imagine in those tiny minds.

    I would add that the enablers are either misguided themselves or worse exploiting the vulnerable they claim to care so much about while making the fear and suffering of the precious tykes even worse. By encouraging a child’s psychosomatic response the reaction is converted to an automatic one which is unnecessary and cruel. Making children into victims to be paraded in front of a misled public goes beyond anything the smoker is trying to do which is to be left alone. There is nothing a smoker values more than the puppies and kittens other than the children, our future and our treasure. We love them children more than the anti-smokers. A hateful heart has no room for lovin’ the cheeeldren. Take that Debs!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      mUCH AKIN TO THE BRAINWASHING OF CHILDREN BY SOCIAL WORKERS in high profile cases to get a conviction! Nothing is beyond government control freeks! Using the children is as old as moses! But tobacco control gives a whole new meaning in brainwashing propaganda…..they use inclusion propaganda and then get the winners of anti-tobacco poster DARE contests to then speak before legislative bodies pleading for a smoking ban! BULLSHIT ON THOSE TARDS!

  8. Excellent information!

    One approach I use sometimes when confronting Antis online directly who claim to be asthmatic, is to take a very sympathetic approach about psychosomaticism — stressing strongly that to the person EXPERIENCING the attack, the attack is very real, even if the actual root cause of the attack is psychological rather than physical. I’ll then go on to blame the Antis for encouraging such psychological problems and thereby possibly causing more asthmatic attacks than smoking by itself would ever have caused!


  9. While assessing Mrs Johanson’s nursing history for allergies, the nurse should emphasize in his teaching plan the: A. But pregnancy can also cause drainage and possibly facial paralysis or vertigo, if the employer were to use a swimming-in-place pool. The storm has claimed at least 16 lives in the United States today, greater than 2 is bad.

  10. Steven says:

    Intesmresting. I have no suppurating source of information. However, as a. Ex social smoking with moderate asthma at the age of 29 I can confirm that smoking did impare my breathing. True, it’s not an allergen but it is an irritant.

  11. A lot of places offer coupons regularly, for contests or
    even just for joining their site

  12. nisakiman says:

    Dave, the link to the Swedish study seems to be broken. Any idea where I might find it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s