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Research Suggests Vaping Could Cause Emphysema

After examining how e-cigarette vapor affects lung cells compared to tobacco smoke, researchers at Central Michigan University College of Medicine concluded that vaping could lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) like emphysema.

WCMU-researchersDr. Neeraj Vij,  an associate professor of molecular and cell biology, and his colleagues at CMU exposed both human bronchial epithelial cells and live mice to e-cigarette vapor to test how they are effected, and found that even minimal exposure affected the protein process in the cells. “What we found is that e-cigarette vapor seems to impact the protein processing inside the cell which can lead to all sorts of inflammatory signaling mechanisms or toxicity producing programmed cell death,” Vij said.

After exposing the bronchial cells to e-cigarette vapor for between one and six hours, researchers saw “significant disruptions” of the protein processing in the cells. Apparently even minimal exposure of just one hour had negative effects. “The team found even minimal exposure of e-cigarette vapor for one hour, disrupted the protein processes in cells,” their study abstract states. “It is the same path cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke takes in our bodies.”

“COPD/emphysema is not a genetic disorder,” Vij said in a statement. “We have described the role of overall protein processing in this and in previous research, which has been confirmed by studies from other groups. What we are talking about is how these proteins are made and how they are degraded. This process of proteostasis in our cells has to be very — in layman’s terms — tightly regulated, because if it goes off-balance, it’s a big problem.”

In a recent video, Dr. Neeraj Vij also expressed his personal opinion about electronic cigarettes, saying that he doesn’t think they help people quit smoking or that they are a safer alternative to smoking, because they have their own toxicity. His opinion is based on some controversial studies which found high levels of formaldehyde in e-cigarette vapor.

Emphysema is one of several diseases known collectively as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It gradually damages the alveoli – air sac in the lungs – and thus preventing the lungs from carrying out their function of oxygenating the blood. Symptoms include shortness of breath and constant coughing. Treatments can slow the progression of emphysema but the damage it causes cannot be reversed.


This is now the second study that claims vaping can cause emphysema, the first having been presented in September 2014, during the European Respiratory Society Congress, in Munich.

Photo via WCMU

39 Comments/Reviews

  • john minichiello says:

    Once you said they found formaldehyde I knew this whole article was bull and since I switched to ecigs, I havent coughed once. Two of my relatives had emphysema and they coughed every second. How much money did these scientist get paid from big tobacco to produce such rubbish!!!

    • John says:
      5 stars

      umm vape makers can’t get medical nicotine which is free of all added chemicals….

      So they buy wholesale leaves which are the same used in cigs and grind them up…

      and just because someone has emphysema doesn’t mean they cough like a weed smoker… what they are finding is more of a bulbous emphysema and makes perfect sense with heated sugars and other crap…

      Oh I pay claims for a living and vape use vs side effects is way high and be forewarned that other countries are starting to ban like us but give it 2 years and full ban.

      if anyone had a brain then they would know you would not need 90% of the bs in the oil or even need to heat it.

      Oh yeah don’t be shocked if medical insurance puts a disclaimer on this so you use and toast a lung to bad so sad since we wont pay crap on it… thats already in play and should be on Obamacare next year.

    • Bill says:

      I don’t smell the same B/S as many. This article simply states that vaping disturbs the proteins in the same way that cigarette smoke does. Vaping hasn’t been around long enough for long term studies.
      To me, you can put the pieces together well enough that you won’t get away with saying you didn’t know.
      Think of an electric fence: do you need someone to tell you not to pee on it?
      Denial is actualy stupidity.

  • Aron says:

    I switched to vaporizer 2.5 years ago, now I have emphysema. Maybe not complete bullshit.

    • Harold says:

      Truly sorry that you got emphysema, but for how long did you smoke before switching to vaping? It’s not like the problems of smoking magically disappear the day you have your last cig. It takes many years to get rid of that stuff. I’m not saying vaping is 100% safe, but it would be sad if vaping got the blame for every smoking related disease that develops post-smoking. Which it most likely will since thats precisely the time people will use it. Whatever the case, we’ll probably find out in the coming years if this problem escalates or not.

      • CarolO says:
        5 stars

        No Harold. Emphysema does not go away in many years. It’s forever…..or until it kills you. I am at stage 4, smoked 52 years. If you stop smoking today, emphysema will not progress beyond this point. But it will not get better again because the lung sacs are already broken and ruined. Vaping only increased my emphysema. Not wanting something to be true, does not make it true. Cigarettes have been tested for decades to know their effect and vaping hasn’t had nearly enough testing to know what it does.

        • Linda says:

          Actually…emphysema is a progressive disease. Even if you stop smoking today….if you have emphysema it will never get better…and it will get worse. Quit before you have emphysema or it is too late……

    • michael schoonover says:

      I was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis that was probably emphysema according o my physician three years ago. Since I quit smoking and started vaping two and a half years ago my lungs are completely clear now.

  • Krista says:
    5 stars

    I’ve been vaping for a while now and the only thing I notice is that I’m coughing cuz of not smoking cigarettes. It’s what happens when you quit smoking, it’s not because of vaping
    I really think that people should buzz off of trying to get e cigs banned because they help a lot of people. If you don’t like vaping go back to smoking but don’t try to blame vaping on your “so called” new problems!

    • Steve says:

      I agree 100%. I would suggest, whwn it comes to these, so called, studies, FOLLOW THE . University does not do studies out of the goodness of their hearts, some entity buys the study. Perhaps RJ Reynolds or Phillip Morris? Just sayin’.

  • lucky waite says:
    5 stars

    Like my physician has told me anything beats a cigarette! if you must smoke. Vaping will beat out a cigarette 10x over. Unfortunately anyone that has smoked for over 30 years some damage has to have been caused. And anyone who has smoke 2 packs a day for 20 plus years damage has been done. That’s about it. But I someone must smoke i would say vaporize any day.

  • Luke Mulock says:

    I hadn’t smoked in 20 years. Picked up vaping because it looked cool. Been doing it less than a year and have started to develop a chronic cough. I thought it was propaganda but now I believe it. A chronic cough after 9 months of vaping. That’s scary. I now have to quit e-cig.

    • michael a schoonover says:

      Generally speaking people develop develop smoking related diseases at the same ages whether they smoked or not. If one smoked,smoking is said to be the cause. If one never smoked smoking is not the cause. At one point in time 80% of the adult population smoked,had smoked or tried smoking.

  • Don Sprague says:

    I switched to vaping 1 1/2 years ago after smoking 3 packs a day for 53 years. The cough and dark phlegm I used to have are gone- completely.

    I am 72 and feel better than I have for many many years. By the way, the cost of vaping fluid to replace all those cigarettes is less than $3 a week. I could have bought and paid cash for a good house for what I spent on cigs. No withdrawals whosoever.

    Cigarette companies and drug companies hate vaping for significant loss of revenue from both smokers(sales of tobacco) and expensive quit-smoking drugs.

  • Allan says:

    If vaping may be harmful in any way, it is still better than smoking. At worst, it is the lesser of two evils.

  • Joe says:
    1 stars

    That’s bull whoever wrote this article is full of it. How much did you get paid to write this bs?

    tar causes Emphysema ecigs don’t have tar.

    ask your self what’s better to inhale thousands of chemicals from cigarettes
    or three chemicals from ecigs

    do the math common sense tells me ecigs are thousand of times heather then cigarettes.

    Maybe ecigs are not the healthiest thing but like i said they are thousands of times healthier then smoking all the poisons from cigarettes

    P.S have you ever tried blowing an ecig into a napkin it doesn’t stain it. CIGARETTES DO.

    so again common sense which of the two do you think is better for your lungs?

    This article really ANGERS ME.

  • joe says:
    1 stars

    BTW where is the proof to this so called doctors claims all I heard was a lot of talking with no documents proving those claims.

    I think this so called doctor is full of it.Some one should really research this doctor and make sure he didn’t get paid.

    P.s I personally know someone who quit smoking from ecigs and now has quit ecigs as well.

    How can people be so dishonest.

    Jesus Christ sees everything.

  • mike says:

    I dont smoke cigarettes,never have, i only vap cannabis, top shelf organically grown cannabis, the best cali has to offer. I use a volcano vaporizer when i vap. been doing it for over 5 years now and i noticed i get shortness of breathe and have been using an inhaler to help me breathe.

  • MGodles76 says:

    I’ve been a smoker for about 15 years when I decided to try to quit via eciggs -I was able to quit regular cigarettes but not without some serious problems – I started getting really irritable, then I started having anxiety like attacks which turned into the beginning stages of COPD. After 2daysof stopping the eciggs all my symptoms dissipated. End result= regular cigarettes didn’t effect me at all while eciggs brought on the whole onset of COPD.

    • michael a schoonover says:

      I am sure your doctor documented all this. It would be interesting for you to pass on his thoughts about this.I would like to read up on the literature linking anxiety attacks to COPD as to pass this information on. I know people who suffer from anxiety attacks that never smoked and I want to inform them of this possibility.

  • m gross says:

    COPD takes 20-40 years to develop to a clinical problem, even with constant tobacco smoking. The idea that vaping could cause it within weeks or months is absurd. Some people may indeed have some type of allergy to vapor components, however. This is not known. The research above looked only at protein processing in a lab. While suggestive, it is bad science to say that this corresponds to emphysema in the living cells of vapers’ lungs. It is only a minor finding that needs to be further studied. The experience of the majority of vapers is diametrically opposed.

  • KZK says:

    I heard lots of vapers saying that they are paid to say this anout the vaping. I was completely fine. I vaped for 8 months and kept getting short of breath, wheezing, 2 upper respitory infections in a month. Went to dr. Did pulmonary lung test. I have copd
    Emphysema. He said he believes it to be from vaping. Did my dr get paid to say that too? These studies are done from people who go to drs to get tests done. I really wish I would of believed these studies and quit sooner so I wouldnt have copd. If people like something, theyre gonna come up with excuses to keep doing it. Good luck vapers.everybody is entitled to their beliefs and oppinions but I was fine, vaped for 8 months, now I have copd. I believe vaping gave it to me. Everybody has to learn their own way.

    • Michele says:

      Hello I went on this site because I was trying to find out if vaping make emphesema worse. I was told I have mild I quit smoking 8 months ago. Started vaping at first I felt great from quitting ciggs but now after vaping for 8 months I feel short of breath more and a feel of through coated .I believe its from vaping as others said too. I’m addicted to gaping too the hand mouth motion now I have to try to quit. I used to think the negatives on coping was lyes but I’m just not sure anymore. Thanks for hearing me out

    • John says:

      Yes same here vaped for four years now and COPD keeps me from doing hardly anything. I was not even a smoker just an occasional cigar. Started vaping and loved it..now I can’t even go for a walk without panting like a dog the whole way. It is miserable 🙁

    • richard curry says:

      i’ve been dabbling in vaping since 2009 and have read about every article on this subject that has been out and it still amazes me how intelligent people address this issue, when they don’t know or aren’t sure its always maybe, might be,could be or should be, this tells me, over look this guy and continue looking for answers, its out there, seek and you shall find!!!

  • joe says:
    3 stars

    I went from smoking went to vapeing for a year always gasp for air then i quit now im breathing better now got told i was flooding my lungs.but its up to people if they want to vape or smoke its there choice.i just wanted to get word out..

  • stalin says:

    got emph,,,lungs getting worse,,i vape…but me numpty,bot parrot

  • Shadow says:

    To all those people above claiming you now have COPD and/or emphysema from a year or two of vaping: it usually takes at least 20 to 30 years of smoking to develop these conditions. Our VO2 uptake deteriorates naturally with age. If you have damaged your lungs by smoking for many years – even if you’ve stopped smoking – you might still cross the threshold where you will require treatment or oxygen supplement, by way of this natural deterioration.
    There is very little useful science in the article above. Just propaganda.

    • Jennifer says:

      I hear ya, Shadow. I quit smoking ten years ago. Was a smoker for only about 8 yrs. but anyway, i recently started vaping. Had some test ran the other day and they claiming i may have emphysema. Not sure if maybe i had it all along from cigs or if its from the vaping. But it sucks. That would explain though why my ” asthma” actually got worse after i quit cigs. Hmmm.

  • Anti-Shill says:
    5 stars

    This page is full of liars, being paid by big tobacco to post disinformation. Big tobacco is losing billions of dollars a year because people are quitting, with the help of Vaping. Vaping is not intended to be something you continue to do for the rest of your life, it’s intended as a smoking cessation method. It’s been proven to work, and at much better rates than any other cessation method currently available by pharmaceutical companies, who are also pretty upset about the losses in revenue they are seeing. If you are trying to quit smoking, Vaping works! Don’t keep smoking! Don’t belive these bastard liars who would rather you never quit smoking, or remain addicted to their products. You can quit! DO IT!

  • vaporsolo says:
    5 stars

    Shared, thanks!

  • Andrew says:

    I was a 5-10 smoke a day person on and off for 20+ years. I started vaping a week ago after trying it many times over the years, but never quite having it catch on.

    After going through research though, I have decided just to vape a mixture of vg, pg and Nic only. I am suspicious of what exactly is in many of the flavourings and really hope that some
    Proper research is conducted into long term effects of vaping… I think we can all agree more science is needed.

    The above article smells strongly of bull$hit though and needs calling out.

  • Sb says:

    I’ve smoked since 15. Both my parents smoked, including when my Mom was pregnant with me. My brother and I have been surrounded by second hand smoke our entire lives. My Father died at 75 from lung cancer, even though he quit smoking 20 years. My Mom died of COPD last year at 80. Her health declined dramatically in the last 10 years. Painful.
    I wasn’t a regular smoker until 3 years ago. My partner was reformed, but fell back into the habit quickly because of my occasional ciggie. Vaping is more addictive than cigs, and I feel some bad shit coming on if I don’t stop.

  • Stephen says:
    5 stars

    I vaped for 1-2 years and I got COPD. Early in life I smoked cigs but not all the time. I would quit for years at a time. Then have a normal cig once or twice every six months. I was never a heavy smoker accept for about 4 years in the ARMY. I switched over to vaping because of the cost and I thought it was safer. I was WRONG! There is a wheezing in my left lung. It feels restricted. Its gotten a lot better ever since I quit vaping a couple of years ago but I fear that it will never completely go away. Vaping is WAY more addictive and I loved doing it. But I did it way too much everyday and its not SAFE!

  • Ivanna Santino says:
    5 stars

    I’m 59 years old and female. I was diagnosed a couple of months ago with COPD and I was beyond scared! My lung function test indicated 49% capacity. After having had flu a year ago, the shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains continued even after being treated with antibiotics. I’ve been smoking two packs a day for 36 years. Being born without a sternum caused my ribs to be curled in just one inch away from my spine, resulting to underdeveloped lungs. At age 34 I had surgery and it was fixed. Unfortunately my smoking just caused more damage to my already under developed lungs. The problem was having is that I enjoy smoking and don’t want to give up! Have tried twice before and nearly went crazy and don’t want to go through that again. I saw the fear in my husband and children’s eyes when I told them about my condition then they start to find solution on their own to help my condition.I am an 59 now who was diagnose COPD emphysema which I know was from my years of smoking. I started smoking in school when smoking was socially acceptable. I remember when smoking was permitted in hospitals. It was not known then how dangerous cigarettes were for us, and it seemed everybody smoked but i was able to get rid of my COPD lung condition through the help of total cure herbal foundation my husband bought, totalcureherbsfoundation .c om has the right herbal formula to help you get rid and repair any lung conditions and cure you totally with their natiral organic herbs. I wish anybody who starts smoking at a young age would realize what will eventually happen to their bodies if they continue that vile habit throughout their life.

  • Phillip says:

    I was born 6 weeks early, had bronchitis from birth, smoked for 32 years from age 14, coughed like a mad dog. Gave up smoking nov 2015 and my health has improved. No more bronchitis cough, better breathing, and I feel 100% better.
    This report is complete BS. Take it from an ex smoker of 32 years, vaing is 95% safer than smoking, and the health benefits are out of this world.

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