Vaping study indicates ‘no evidence of emerging lung injury’

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is threatening to ban the sales of all vapor products unless teen usage rates to do decline sharply and immediately.  Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that his main concern is with teenagers becoming potentially addicted to nicotine and becoming future adult smokers of combustible tobacco products.

However, scientists largely agree that it is not the nicotine of tobacco cigarettes that kills.  It’s the tar and infused chemicals that does the deadly damage.  Vaping, by the way, is 100 percent tobacco-free.

Meanwhile, the CDC recently released new data in early November which indicates national smoking rates are at an all-time low.  What Gottlieb is failing to take into consideration is that vaping has helped millions of smokers quit, and consequently, has either saved their lives or - at minimum - increased their lifespans.

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Smoking combustible tobacco kills, and one significant way that it does this is by performing irreparable damage to the lungs and respiratory system.  The United States is not the only country to take an anti-vaping stance.  These types of misinformed discussions are occurring all over the globe in the federal public health agencies and legislative bodies, including in the beautiful nation of Italy.  One group of Italian scientists decided to see what all the fuss was about.  

The most extensive vaping study in history

The research team led by Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania, Italy also included scientists from the American University of California, Los Angeles.  Not only was the project one of the more collaborative efforts in the field of vaping research, the study lasted nearly four years, making it the most extensive undertaking of its kind to date.

The researchers began by selecting a group of younger never-smokers who had also never vaped.  This essentially means that their lungs and respiratory systems were relatively damage-free.  Their average age was a mere 29.7 years.

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The prime objective of the study was to ask the volunteers to experiment with vaping while the scientists monitored their respiratory, pulmonary, cardiovascular, and circulatory systems for signs of damage or deterioration.  Vital signs and biomarkers measured on a periodic basis included the following.

  • Heart rate and blood pressure
  • Body weight (weight gain or loss)
  • Lung and breathing functions
  • Nitric acid variances in exhaled breath
  • Carbon monoxide variances in exhaled breath
  • High-resolution CT scans of the lungs
  • Respiratory damage caused by Lipoid Pneumonia
  • Respiratory damage caused by Bronchiolitis Obliterans (“Popcorn Lung”)
  • Respiratory damage caused by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Respiratory damage caused by other disorders

Only a dozen initial subjects were selected for the clinical trial, simply due to the fact that the study was anticipated to last nearly four years.  By the end of the research, only nine participants remained. 

Meanwhile, another twelve non-smokers/non-vapers acted as the control group.  These individuals remained vape- and smoke-free throughout the project.  When all was said and done, the Polosa Team saw no measurable lung or respiratory damage whatsoever.

“In a small sample of young-adult never-smoking, daily EC users who were carefully followed for approximately 3½ years, we found no decrements in spirometric indices, development of respiratory symptoms, changes in markers of lung inflammation in exhaled air or findings of early lung damage on HRCT, when compared with a carefully matched group of never-smoking non-EC users. Even the heaviest EC users failed to exhibit any evidence of emerging lung injury as reflected in these physiologic, clinical or inflammatory measures. Moreover, no changes were noted in blood pressure or heart rate. Since the EC users who we studied were never smokers, potential confounding by inhalation of combustion products of tobacco were obviated.”

Dr. Polosa freely admits that more research is required before any conclusive findings can be published, but the small sample group of this first project shows promising results.  It also supports the need for additional funds and research involving a larger group of participants, which is currently in process.  The Polosa study entitled Health impact of E-cigarettes: a prospective 3.5-year study of regular daily users who have never smoked is readily available for review via the medical journal Nature.

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