Vaping raises lung disease risks by more than 40%, study finds

Vaping raises lung disease risks by more than 40%: Study finds young e-cigarette users face higher risks of asthma, chronic bronchitis and COPD

  • Boston University researchers found that even among vapers who don’t smoke, risks of lung disease are 43% higher for current e-cig users 
  • Current vapers are 34% more at risk for chronic bronchitis and 69% more likely to develop emphysema than non-users 
  • Vapers face a 57% higher risk of COPD, a life-threatening lung condition that affects many smokers  

Vaping may drive up the risk of developing lung disease by more than 40 percent, new research suggests. 

A new study from Boston University is among the first to establish that vaping alone could raise risks for respiratory problems. 

E-cigarettes have been advertised by companies like Juul as safer alternatives to smoking, but because the products are relatively new to the market – gaining massive popularity in the last several years – it has been difficult to say for sure  if the products are linked to long-term health problems. 

The new study offers early hints of the answer public health officials assumed and parents feared: no, vaping is not without risks.  

Researchers found higher rates of emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic bronchitis among people who started vaping as young adults and were entering their middle ages. 

People who vape face 43% higher risks of lung disease, a new Boston University study found 

Perhaps most importantly, the results held true even among vapers who were otherwise healthy. 

The researchers also separated out people who had used other tobacco or marijuana products that might raise their risks for respiratory problems, with or without the addition of e-cigarette use. 

Findings from the study, published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open, were based on a group of 21,618 adults recruited beginning in 2013 and continuing through 2018.

More than 5,000 of them, or 11.6 percent of the overall group were former e-cigarette users, and 5.2 percent (2,329) were current users at the time they were recruited. 

E-cigarettes have been found to have fewer and lower levels of some of the toxic chemicals that make smoking so harmful to the lungs. 

But they’re not short on the ingredient that makes cigarettes addictive: nicotine. 

In fact, some are more potent than combustible cigarettes, and young people who vape are actually more likely to smoke, compared to those who don’t vape, according to the Truth Initiative. 

The commonality of co-using the two products also makes it difficult to parse out which might be responsible for health problems. 

But the group the Boston University team studied was large enough, and followed for a long enough period that they could separate the two out. 

In absence of cigarette smoking, people who were former vapers were at a 21 percent higher risk of developing respiratory diseases and people who still vaped were at a 43 percent higher risk. 

People who were still using e-cigarettes were 33 percent more at-risk for chronic bronchitis, 69 percent more at risk for emphysema and were 57 percent more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Asthma risks were also about 31 percent higher among vapers than non-vapes. 

Last year, before the coronavirus pandemic became the health emergency of the century, the surge in teen and youth vaping coupled with a disturbing spate of life-threatening lung illnesses among people became a top health priority in the U.S.

Eventually, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials discovered that the terrifying illnesses were linked to vitamin D acetate, used to fill vapes with bootlegged cannabis e-liquids. 

But it was an early warning sign that the devices weren’t wholly safe (in addition to the occasional explosion of a faulty device). 

Now, the latest study suggests that trendy vapes could do long-term damage as well.  

‘In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in e-cigarette use among youth and young adults which threatens to reverse decades of hard-fought gains [against tobacco use],’ said study co-author Dr Andrew Stokes. 

‘This new evidence also suggests that, [because of vaping], we may see an increase in respiratory disease as youth and young adults age into midlife, including asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions.’