Vaping May Increase the Risk of Chronic Respiratory Disease
Vaping has become a controversial issue in the healthcare profession. Vapes and e-cigarettes have been touted as a safer alternative to smoking and can be used as a method to help smokers quit. There has recently been an influx of cases where vaping caused short-term health impacts. New findings indicate that vaping may also be responsible for some long-term health problems, such as:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic bronchitis
A longitudinal analysis published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that vaping is an independent risk factor for respiratory disease.
Researchers studied data collected between 2013 and 2016 that assessed participants based on their usage of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking tobacco was shown to be the most common use pattern among participants, which carries a higher risk than using either product alone.
In theory, making the switch from smoking traditional tobacco products to vaping e-cigarettes could reduce the risk of developing respiratory disease. That theory doesn’t translate to reality because of the actual patterns of e-cigarette usage. Studies show most people who vape also smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products. For most smokers, using an e-cigarette does not increase the odds of successfully quitting. Instead, it leads to dual usage, which can cause more damage than just smoking cigarettes.
In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes contain other toxins that have been shown to impair lung function. These toxins include propylene glycol, diacetyl and heavy metals. Studies involving animal subjects found that e-cigarettes increase pulmonary inflammation, inhibit immune responses and cause oxidative stress, an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants.
Respiratory diseases are leading causes of mortality in the United States. Vaping further exacerbates conditions for patients with lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and COPD. For someone who has never smoked, vaping may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. However, it can take decades for the effects of smoking to cause serious and measurable damage, so future research will be needed to confirm the long-term effects.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, talk with your doctor about tools and resources. Never smoking is the best way to protect your lungs from chronic disease but stopping now can help prevent further damage.