Using e-cigarettes significantly increases the risk of chronic lung disease — study
New American research has found that using e-cigarettes, more commonly known as e-cigs, could significantly increase the risk of developing chronic lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Carried out by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, the new study analyzed data gathered from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), which tracked e-cigarette and tobacco use and new diagnoses of lung disease in over 32,000 American adults between 2013 and 2016.
The findings, published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that current and former e-cigarette users were 1.3 times more likely to develop chronic lung disease, while tobacco smokers were 2.6 times more likely.
In addition, those who used both e-cigarettes and smoked tobacco — which the team says was by far the most common pattern that they found among adult e-cigarette users — had triple the risk of developing chronic lung disease than those who used either product alone.
“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, Ph.D.
“We concluded that e-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco,” Glantz said.
“Dual users — the most common use pattern among people who use e-cigarettes — get the combined risk of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, so they’re actually worse off than tobacco smokers,” said Glantz.
“Switching from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes exclusively could reduce the risk of lung disease, but very few people do it. For most smokers, they simply add e-cigarettes and become dual users, significantly increasing their risk of developing lung disease above just smoking.”
Although earlier studies have also found a link between e-cigarette use and lung disease, these studies have looked at a single point in time, which makes it impossible to determine a causal relationship and say whether lung disease was being caused by e-cigarettes or if people with lung disease were more likely to use e-cigarettes.
However, the new research is the first longitudinal study to link e-cigs to respiratory illness, and using a sample that represents the entire United States adult population. The researchers say this provides stronger evidence of a causal link between adult e-cigarette use and lung diseases than previous investigations.
“This study contributes to the growing case that e-cigarettes have long-term adverse effects on health and are making the tobacco epidemic worse,” said Glantz. IB/RG