Health & Studies

Further COPD Evidence

Dr Riccardo Polosa is associated with yet another study showing the positive impact of switching from tobacco to vaping in COPD patients

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Dr Riccardo Polosa is associated with yet another study showing the positive impact of switching from tobacco to vaping in COPD patients. Researchers have been saying for a number of years that smokers suffering from COPD should consider switching to vaping. Anecdotal evidence from the Planet of the Vapes’ forum supported this suggestion as members recounted their own personal stories. In his latest paper, Dr Riccardo Polosa repeats the advice.

What is COPD?

The British Lung Foundation defines chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as “a group of lung conditions including bronchitis and emphysema. They make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because your airways have been narrowed.”

Previously, in 2018, Polosa published a paper from a University of Catania team studying patients diagnosed with COPD. Half of the subjects had switched to vaping or were ‘dual fuelling’. The other half, the control group, were not vapers at the start of the project.

After three years, the research team found that vaping helped patients:

  • Significantly reduced conventional cigarette use (from a mean of 21.9 cigarettes/day at baseline to a mean of 2/day at 1-year follow-up)
  • Had respiratory infections and COPD exacerbations that were markedly diminished, and their respiratory functioning was not worsened by EC use
  • Showed consistently improved overall health status and physical activity
  • Relapsed to conventional cigarette smoking at a low rate (8.3%)

Anecdotal evidence from the Planet of the Vapes forum supported findings demonstrating improvements in health from switching. Forum member Mutley1 told us how he used to be a 40-a-day rollie smoker before switching in 2013. “When I gave up and visited a specialist about my breathing it turned out I have mild COPD and my lungs were only working at 70%. I struggled doing simple things like walking my dog or playing with the grand kids. Now I’m as fit as I’m ever likely to be and don’t get out breath. I’m enjoying life!” [link]

A 2017 paper looking at the subject in 2017 suggested that doctors should consider advising current smokers with COPD to switch to vaping. Lead author Dr Gina Kruse said: “Smokers with asthma, COPD, or cardiovascular disease probably use e-cigarettes for the same reasons as other adults: to quit cigarettes, reduce cigarette consumption, or reduce the harms from smoking.”

E-cigarette use by current and former smokers with medical comorbidities is substantial, especially among individuals with chronic lung or cardiovascular disease. Clinicians should … actively consider all pathways to help their patients quit combustible cigarettes and recommend evidence-based treatments.”

In his latest paper, Polosa’s team states: “Quitting is the only proven method to attenuate the progression of COPD. However, most COPD smokers do not seem to respond to smoking cessation interventions and may benefit by lessening the negative health effects of long-term cigarette smoke exposure by switching to non-combustible nicotine delivery alternatives, such as … e-cigarettes.”

This being said, Polosa’s team acknowledges that “more high-quality studies are needed to draw definitive conclusions”.

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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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.

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