Those who used e-cigarettes or vaping in the past are 21 per cent more likely to develop a respiratory disease while those who currently use them has a 43 per cent increased risk, a study has said.

It  warned that because of vaping, there might be  an increase in respiratory disease as youth and young adults age into midlife, including asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions.

The new study is one of the first to look at vaping in a large number of otherwise healthy people over time, examining the effects of e-cigarette use independently from other tobacco product use. The findings have appeared in journal JAMA Network Open.

Because using e-cigarettes or (“vaping”) has been marketed as a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, it has been difficult to tell whether the association between vaping and disease is just a matter of smokers switching to vaping when they start experiencing health issues, pointed out the researchers.

Further, because e-cigarettes are relatively new to the scene, until recently it hasn’t been possible for researchers to conduct long-term studies tracking how vaping impacts health, they said.

“This provides some of the very first longitudinal evidence on the harms associated with e-cigarette products,” said lead study author Andrew Stokes, assistant professor of global health at Boston University’s School of Public Health.

Evidence of the health effects of vaping, from this and other studies, “highlights the importance of standardizing documentation of e-cigarette product use in electronic health records,” said co-author Hasmeena Kathuria, a Pulmonary Center faculty member.

For this study, researchers used data on 21,618 healthy adult participants from the first four waves (2013-2018) of the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), the most comprehensive national survey of tobacco and e-cigarette use to date.

To make sure their findings weren’t accounting for cigarette smokers switching to e-cigarettes specifically because of existing health issues (rather than the vaping itself causing these issues), the researchers only included people in the study who reported having no respiratory issues when they entered PATH, adjusting for a comprehensive set of health conditions.The researchers found, overall, that former e-cigarette use was associated with a 21% increase in the risk of respiratory disease, while current e-cigarette use was associated with a 43% increase.

More specifically, current e-cigarette use was associated with a 33% increase in chronic bronchitis risk, 69% increase in emphysema risk, 57% increase in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) risk, and 31% increase in asthma risk.

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