Health & Studies

Vaping and its effects on lung function

Science looks at the effect of vaping on lung function and produces some unscientific conclusions.

Share on:
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) held its annual conference in Denver this month. Two presentations were made in relation to vaping and its effects on lung function, one of which suffered from poor planning while the other demonstrated a laughable level of ignorance of prior research. One examined pulmonary effects after ecig use, the second looked at the cough reflex. The ensuing media coverage was predictably poor.

The ATS claim to improve global health by “advancing research, patient care, and public health in pulmonary disease, critical illness, and sleep disorders. Founded in 1905 to combat TB, the ATS has grown to tackle asthma, COPD, lung cancer and acute respiratory distress among other diseases.”

Vardavas et al presented their study, titled “Short-term Pulmonary Effects of Using an Electronic Cigarette,” published on Medscape. In it they examined the impact of ecig use on respiratory flow resistance, impedance, and exhaled nitric oxide.

The work begins poorly: “Debate exists over the scientific evidence for claims that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have no health-related ramifications.” There is no claim or debate, scientific or otherwise, regarding vaping having a zero impact on health. Vapers and scientists agree that the use of vaping equipment does present a hazard but is of orders of magnitude less than smoking.

The study continues to nosedive. As part of the methodology, the researchers used current heavy smokers to appraise the effects of ecig use instead of vapers. It is therefore unsurprising that they concluded: “e-Cigarettes assessed in the context of this study were found to have immediate adverse physiologic effects after short-term use that are similar to some of the effects seen with tobacco smoking.” There may be truths contained within their findings but the poor quality of the study ends up failing to deliver information of use.

Dicpinigaitis et al presented the findings of their “Effect of Electronic Cigarette Use on Cough Reflex Sensitivity” study. Dicpinigaitis claims to have demonstrated in previous work “that chronic tobacco cigarette smokers have reduced cough reflex sensitivity.” Ignoring any work to the contrary, he claimed to be the only person to have researched the direct impact of electronic cigarettes on this phenomenon.

The scientist was quoted in Time Magazine saying: “Millions of people around the world that are puffing e-cigs but when you look at the scientific literature about the effects of e-cigs, there’s nothing out there.” One might wonder how hard he looked. It’s not worth reading the article in full; butchers don’t carry that much tripe.

This team failed to provide control devices in their method or demonstrate the scale of the problem they claim to have uncovered. In his own words, Dicpinigaitis agreed in his press release: “We still need to understand the clinical significance of this effect.”

Both pieces of work stand juxtaposed to the recent findings by Polosa. In his work looking at ecig use and harm reversal in the lungs, he wrote: “e-vapor products are at least 96% less harmful and may substantially reduce individual risk and population harm.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

Join the discussion

Health & Studies

Expert Reaction to Pregnancy Study

Experts have reacted to the QML study of impacts of vaping in pregnancy and comparison with smoking

Vaping News

Study: Vapes Help Pregnant Quitters

A new study from Queen Mary University of London finds that vapes help pregnant smokers quit and pose no risk of poor pregnancy outcomes

Vaping News

IBVTA responds to UCL study

The Independent British Vape Trade Association has responded to University College London research and said the findings show the Government’s smoke-free ambition is stalling

Vaping News

Cochrane Review Echoes Swedish Success

The Cochrane Review echoes the Swedish approach, finding less harmful alternatives like vaping are superior to other quit methods, says Smoke Free Sweden