E-cigarettes raise lung disease risks: study

Updated December 17, 2019

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The results of the research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are unrelated to the recent outbreak of an acute lung disease that has killed more than 50 people and has been linked to a substance commonly added to vaping products. — AFP/File
The results of the research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are unrelated to the recent outbreak of an acute lung disease that has killed more than 50 people and has been linked to a substance commonly added to vaping products. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: E-cigarette use significantly increases the risk of developing chronic lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a long term study published on Monday that also found vaping was less harmful than smoking.

The results of the research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are unrelated to the recent outbreak of an acute lung disease that has killed more than 50 people and has been linked to a substance commonly added to vaping products containing THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Scientists at UC San Francisco examined publicly available data that tracked e-cigarette and tobacco habits as well as new lung disease diagnoses in over 32,000 American adults from 2013 to 2016.

They found that current and former e-cigarette users were 1.3 times more likely to develop chronic lung disease, while tobacco smokers increased their risk by a factor of 2.6.

For people who both smoked and vaped, the risks of developing lung disease more than tripled.

“What we found is that for e-cigarette users, the odds of developing lung disease increased by about a third, even after controlling for their tobacco use and their clinical and demographic information,” said senior author Stanton Glantz, a UCSF professor of medicine.

“We concluded that e-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco,” he added.

The paper did not offer a new biological explanation for how vaping causes such harm, but cited earlier physiological studies in both animals and humans that have found that e-cigarettes suppress the immune system and increase the levels of stress-related proteins in the lung.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2019