E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Study Finds E-Cigarettes Cause Short-Term Airway Inflammation

Researchers at the Hellenic Cancer Society, Athens, Greece, recently published a study on the immediate effects of vaping and found that it causes “acute pulmonary function impairment” for less than 30 minutes after use.

teen-vapingThe full study will be presented at the 2016 CHEST World Congress (April 15-17) in Shanghai, but the media somehow picked it up and covered it extensively as soon as the abstract was published online. That tends to happen a lot when negative e-cigarette research is concerned, but we’ve all gotten used to it by now. Anyway, let’s take a look at the very limited information we have about this study right now.

54 young mild cigarette and experienced e-cigarette smokers (aged 18-31) were enrolled in the study. 27 of them had mild controlled asthma while the others were generally healthy. Here is where things get a bit weird – the abstract mentions that “all subjects smoked the e-cigarette with the cartridge attached at an initial session and served as control group using the device without the cartridge at a different session.” What does that mean? What is an e-cigarette without a cartridge, a simple battery? There is no context provided, so I’m not really sure.

For standardization, the same e-liquid (nicotine strength 12mg/ml) and e-cig settings (voltage=3.7V, resistance=1.6Ω, 10 puffs of 4sec duration each with 30sec interval between two consecutive puffs) were used in both sessions. Oscillometry was used to measure the subjects’ airway obstruction and a measurement of exhaled nitric oxide was used to evaluate inflammation. Researchers found that results were worse immediately after vapor inhalation and were particularly severe in asthma sufferers. However all parameters returned to baseline (pre-smoking) values after 30 minutes, in both asthmatic and healthy smokers.

“These results show that as it happens with cigarette smoking, e-cigarette smoking has more deleterious short-term effects on asthmatics compared with healthy smokers,” said study author Dr. Andreas Lappas of the Hellenic Cancer Society. “Additionally, this research adds to the growing body of research pointing to the dangers of e-cigarettes. Especially for asthma, further research is needed in order to assess the risks of long-term e-cigarette use.”

From what I understand, this study did not compare the immediate effects of vaping to those of smoking, which is really what everyone is interested in. I don’t remember anyone claiming that using e-cigarettes is completely safe. Inhaling anything other than air has a detrimental short-term effect on our airways. In fact, even spending some time in a steamy bathroom after a hot shower, not to mention a sauna, can cause airway inflammation.

Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, the main ingredients in e-liquid, have long been known to cause mild airway irritation and inflammation, yet they are both used in medical inhalers and smoke machine, and are regarded as generally safe. At the same time, there is already plenty of scientific evidence that using e-cigarettes has a considerably less detrimental effect on our lungs and airways than tobacco smoking, which, from a tobacco harm reduction perspective, is really all that matters.

For example, a 2013 study by Andreas D. Flouris et al. found that “the assessment of lung function demonstrated that neither a brief session of active e-cigarette smoking nor a 1 hour passive e-cigarette smoking session significantly interfered with normal lung function. On the other hand, acute active and passive tobacco cigarette smoking undermined lung function, as repeatedly shown in previous studies,” and concluded that “e-cigarettes generate smaller changes in lung function but similar nicotinergic impact to tobacco cigarettes.”

And regarding the use of e-cigarettes by asthma sufferers, Dr. Ricardo Polosa, a renowned tobacco harm reduction expert, found that switching to e-cigs leads to long-term health improvements in smokers suffering from asthma. That’s LONG-TERM, as in years, not 30 minutes following vapor inhalation.

And those are only two examples of studies that happen to contradict the specific findings of the recent Lappas study, but there are many others that show using e-cigarettes is considerably safer than smoking.

If these researchers want to show that e-cigarettes are dangerous because they cause short-term airway inflammation and mild obstruction, they can do that, but until these results are compared to the effects of smoking, they just show that vaping is less safe than breathing fresh air. What a big surprise, right? Non-smokers shouldn’t even be considering using e-cigarettes, they are simply an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and one that so far has been found to be 95% safer.

The media is having yet another field day with this unimpressive study, tricking smokers who might have otherwise given vaping a chance into thinking that e-cigarettes are just as bad, if not worse, than smoking. All we can do is tell it like it is and hope that regulators like the FDA see through this propaganda and, when the time comes, make the right decision. The lives of millions are at stake.

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