Vaping and COPD
As of 2010, nearly 12 million Americans, with the number still increasing, are suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. More shockingly, there is at least the same number of people suffering from it who are undiagnosed or not treated for this disorder. In 75% of the cases, the cause of this condition is smoking. What is COPD and how it manifests itself? Moreover, what are its connections to vaping and e-cigs? We touched some of these subjects for you.
COPD and its symptoms
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease resulting in the obstruction of airflow from the lungs. As such, due to airflow blockage, it induces further breathing-related problems, most commonly manifesting in emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and less commonly, asthma. Before we come to vaping, here’s shortly what each of the mentioned conditions is.
When the smoke destroys the alveoli at the end of bronchioles (the smallest air passages of the lungs), the person suffers from emphysema. Their destruction is a result of a damaging exposure to cigarette smoke, and rarely, other irritating gases, like is it in the case of popcorn lung.
Chronic bronchitis is the inflammation of bronchial tubes due to increased production of mucus, again induced by smoking.
The most usual symptoms of COPD are coughing, losing breath, wheezing, and secreting phlegm. These symptoms often result in misdiagnosis, or people not even turning to healthcare, as they are often considered to be common symptoms of smoking. You can furthermore read on vaping vs. smoking here, to be sure of symptoms you might be encountering. As these conditions affect seniors, check out our vaping and seniors post.
As we mentioned, in 75% of the cases COPD is caused by smoking. According to statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, other reasons for this disease to appear are:
- 15% – Occupation-related exposures – This is the category vaping doesn’t fit in, as vaping bans are active at workplaces.
- 6.7% – genetic factors, asthma, respiratory infections, and indoor and outdoor exposures to air pollutants, under which vaping fits to a certain extent.
Now when you got the basics of what these conditions are and what is their effect on our bodies, let us see what their relation to vaping is. Here are three opposing studies on vaping and COPD.
Vaping triggers COPD related effects
2016 study entitled Chronic electronic cigarette exposure in mice induces features of COPD in a nicotine-dependent manner, published in Thorax (one of the world’s leading respiratory medicine journals), did find that e-cigarette liquids with nicotine triggered the effects connected with the development of COPD.
Researchers noted destruction of lung tissue, cytokine expression, and airway hyper-reactivity while observing cultured human lung cells and mice. “Inhalation of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes increased airway hyper-reactivity, distal airspace enlargement, mucin production, cytokine, and protease expression” is what scientists dicovered while conducting the study. Moreover, both samples proved nicotine dependency by the end of the research, while exposure to nicotine-free e-cigarettes did not affect the lung parameters, meaning that the problem is in nicotine, not e-cigs overall. The good thing is that you can vape nicotine free, as you can choose zero nicotine level while blending your vape juice.
Another study initiated the research to see whether individuals who use e-cigarettes suffer from any immediate effects and is there is a relationship between e-cigarettes and COPD that can manifest itself through those effects. Researcher Dr. Sofia Vakali who took part in the study titled E- Cigarette acute effect on symptoms and airway inflammation: comparison of nicotine with a non-nicotine cigarette, examined smokers with COPD, with asthma, with no symptoms, and nonsmokers to see the effect of vaping on them.
The examinees expressed following symptoms: Smokers with COPD experienced a sore throat the least of all examinees (62% of them). Researchers furthermore noted a sore throat in 91% of those with asthma, 74% of nonsmokers, and 65% of smokers without symptoms. On the other hand, 69% of smokers with COPD and without symptoms experienced a cough, while the percentage was less for examinees with asthma (66%) and nonsmokers (54%).
Vaping reduces smoking-induced damage
In the study Electronic cigarette use and harm reversal: emerging evidence in the lung, Ricardo Polosa monitored long-term changes in lungs of “healthy” smokers who quit smoking and switched to a first generation EC. Early changes were positive and significant. Polosa’s findings include decreasing of the obstruction, and more apparent expiratory flow after three months in those who ultimately gave up tobacco smoking.
On overall vaping studies you can read here, and we can only hope for more scientifically based and justified studies. Until then, we are left to ask ourselves the burning question: are e-cigs really that bad?