UK vaping study shows up to 66% improvement in respiratory symptoms

A UK vaping study focuses on confirming or debunking previous claims made by other scientific agencies that e-cigs can increase vulnerabilities to respiratory infections.  According to lead co-author Peter Hajek of the Queen Mary University of London, the data indicates that smokers might actually see vast improvements in respiratory symptoms by as much as 66% simply by switching to vaping.

For many vapers, these scientific conclusions may seem like basic common sense.  After all, the idea that smoking causes respiratory disorders is no big secret.  However, many in the anti-vaping community often attempt to link vaping to smoking by asserting that more research is needed to fully determine if e-cigs are just as dangerous as smoking tobacco products.  So, Hajek and his team decided to get the ball rolling by conducting their own survey involving some 941 participates.

Overview of the UK vaping study

The UK vaping study entitled Changes in the Frequency of Airway Infections in Smokers Who Switched to Vaping: Results of an Online Survey is readily available in its entirety via the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy.  More of a survey than a scientific study, the researchers began by asking the control group of respondents to stop smoking and start vaping for a period of two months.  Periodically, the participants were asked to complete online questionnaires about their respiratory conditions and related symptoms.

  • 66% reported a significant improvement in respiratory symptoms.
  • 29% reported “no change.”
  • 5% claimed that their related symptoms seemed to have worsened.

Hajek and his team caution that the potential improvements in respiratory infections among smokers-turned-vapers will vary from person to person.  Since this data from their UK survey is the result of self-reported opinions by the 941 participants, further research is needed. 

Propylene Glycol as an antimicrobial

However, the documented statistics of the 2016 UK vaping study indicating a possible 66% improvement support other notable scientific research from the 1940s.  World-class scientist Dr. Theodore Puck, who passed away in 2005, conducted multiple studies involving vaporized propylene glycol as a suspected antimicrobial.

Dr. Puck confirmed as far back as 1943 that vaporized propylene glycol can kill numerous forms of airborne bacteria, including pneumococci, streptococci and staphylococci.  And according to the UK team, e-liquids made with this common ingredient may be a contributing factor to improved respiratory health.

“The finding of an improvement in respiratory health in people who quit smoking is not surprising because smoking causes increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. In addition to this however, there is also a possibility that inhaled propylene glycol may further magnify this effect. This is because this key ingredient of most e-liquids has antimicrobial effects.”

Hajek’s team also suggests that the 66% improvement rate may be at least partially due to the fact that the 941 respondents were no longer smoking and causing daily damage to their respiratory functions.  It is various potentially contributing factors like these that lead scientists like Hajek to continue their fight for the truth, but one thing is clear.  Vaping does not appear to be “as dangerous” to the respiratory system as smoking.  In fact, quite the contrary.


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