A growing body of evidence points to the health risks of using e-cigarettes (or “vaping”).
But because e-cigarettes are marketed as a less harmful alternative to 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.
In a new study, researchers found that people who had used e-cigarettes in the past were 21% more likely to develop respiratory disease, and those who were current e-cigarette users had a 43% increased risk.
This provides some of the very first longitudinal evidence on the harms associated with e-cigarette products.
The research was conducted by a team from Boston University.
Most previous research on the respiratory health effects of vaping have used animal or cell models, or, in humans, only short-term clinical studies of acute conditions.
For this study, the team used data on 21,618 healthy adult participants.
They found that former e-cigarette use was linked to a 21% increase in the risk of respiratory disease, while current e-cigarette use was associated with a 43% increase.
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% percent increase in asthma risk.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence indicating long-term health risks of e-cigarette use to the respiratory system.
Evidence of the health effects of vaping, from this and other studies, also highlight the importance of standardizing documentation of e-cigarette product use in electronic health records.
One author of the study is Dr. Andrew Stokes, an assistant professor of global health at BUSPH.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
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