Study Shows Why Cocaine Users are Prone to Infection

Addiction specialists have determined that people who use cocaine get sick more often because the drug hampers production of a body protein that triggers  immune responses.

For the study, researchers at McLean Hospital and  Harvard Medical School injected cocaine in the arm of  participants who said they used the drug in the previous month. Another group was injected with a placebo. In the other arm, a catheter was placed in all participants. Generally, the presence of a foreign device, such as a catheter, increases the level of interleukin-6, a protein that tells the immune system to fend off the invader. In the group receiving the placebo injection, the protein performed normally.. But among participants receiving cocaine, the interleukin-6 level increased only one-third as much as the placebo group after four hours.
Dr. John Halpern, a training doctor in a drug-detoxification unit, said the results help to explain why ‘a every single person coming in had a cold.” The study is published in the March 2003 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Source: Halpern J, Sholar, et al Diminished Interleukin-6 Response to Proinflammatory Challenge in Men and Women after Intravenous Cocaine Administration. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 88: 1188-1193.

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