People who use electronic cigarettes face an increased risk of respiratory disease, regardless of whether they also smoke traditional cigarettes, according to a new study.
The research adds important new data about the health effects of the relatively new device.
E-cigarettes first came on the market in the US in 2007. While the devices have been shown to reduce a user’s exposure to toxic substances when used in place of traditional cigarettes, an increasing body of evidence has suggested that e-cigarettes come with significant health risks of their own. Among the problems with e-cigarettes is the fact that many contain volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and ultrafine particles that are believed to have negative impacts on the lungs, airways, and immune system.
Corresponding author Andrew C. Stokes, PhD, of the Boston University School of Health, and colleagues, sought to figure out what effect, if any, e-cigarette usage had on respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.
To answer their question, the investigators used data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, a nationally representative study of adults in the United States. The study was conducted in 4 “waves” between 2013 and 2018. All subjects included in the study had no prevalent respiratory conditions at the study’s baseline.
All told, the investigators identified 21,618 subjects, of whom 11,017 were men and 12,969 were non-Hispanic and white. Most of the subjects (14,213) said they had never used e-cigarettes. Another 5076 subjects