Expert lambasts research claiming vaping causes COPD as pure ‘science fiction’

Expert lambasts research claiming vaping causes COPD as pure ‘science fiction’

As the popularity of vaping continues to soar, the anti-tobacco lobby continues its onslaught of negative press and fictionalized research implying that e-cigs are essentially the root of all evil.  Last week, their disinformation distribution campaign involved the viral posting of an amateurish “study” using highly questionable scientific principles of experimentation.

The research led by Jennifer E Bayley of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities in Bethesda, Maryland, claims that exposure to second-hand vapor increases the chances of asthma attacks in child asthmatics.   The study was so flawed that it was instantly rebuked by several leading scholars and academics.

One of these medical experts is Professor Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania, Italy, who had already debunked these assertions in a prior 2016 study entitled Persisting long term benefits of smoking abstinence and reduction in asthmatic smokers who have switched to electronic cigarettes (Discovery Medicine).

Related Article:  Research debunks claims that second-hand vaping increases asthma attacks

Another popular Fake News story often circulating online is one alleging that vaping – not second-hand vapor – increases the risks of future diagnoses of everything from emphysema to bronchitis, COPD, and even laryngeal cancer.  And just as with the asthma-fictionalized paper out of Maryland, the latter allegations have already been disproven by a Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece.

The COPD allegations first began surfacing in May 2018 when the American Thoracic Society (ATS) published a paper entitled E-Cigarette Use Is Associated with Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis and COPD (Abstracts Online).  In the spirit of full disclosure, Dr. Farsalinos is a favorite among vaping advocacy circles because he is often the first to lambast pay-for-play authors of falsified scientific papers.  And he almost always explains his reasoning in great detail and in a manner in which almost anyone can understand why he finds these bogus studies so ridiculously flawed.

Case in point – the ATS paper claiming vaping “is associated with” COPD, bronchitis, and emphysema.  When the story first appeared, Farsalinos took to his professional blog  E-Cigarette Research to immediately dispute the paper’s findings. 

Even the American Thoracic Society published bogus ‘research’

The ATS paper references a 64-year old retired naval mechanic who had the alarming backstory of having been an avid smoker of about 3-4 packs of cigarettes per day for the past 50 years or so.  The human chimney was eventually diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) at the age of 47 and with laryngeal cancer almost a decade later.

He underwent radiotherapy to help combat his cancer, but all the while he was still smoking at least three tobacco cigarettes per day. Immediately following the completion of the radiotherapy almost a year later, the veteran smoker returned to his 3-4 pack-a-day habit.  He tried switching to vaping, but it took more than a few tries and quite a few different vaping devices before it finally took hold and his health improved.

Related Article:  Dr. Farsalinos debunks AUA claims that vaping leads to bladder cancer

Yet somehow, the ATS links the patient’s deteriorating health to his experimentation with e-cigs rather than the nearly fifty years of prior daily and incessant smoking of combustible tobacco cigarettes.  Dr. Farsalinos wasn’t having it.  He immediately took to his blog to write a scathing retort, labeling the ATS story as pure “science fiction.”.

“The above is a real case of smoker who developed serious medical conditions BEFORE he initiated e-cigarette use. The participation to the cross-sectional survey is science fiction, not different from comments that such an association (i.e. people who smoke and develop smoking-related disease at some point become desperate and try e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking) is proof of a ‘link’ between e-cigarettes and disease (clearly implying that e-cigarettes cause the disease). To their credit, the authors of the study (conference abstract) clearly mentioned that: “Due to the fact that the data is cross-sectional, it is unknown whether E-cigs could contribute to COPD development, or if people who have COPD are more likely to use E-cigs (possibly as a harm reduction method).

If anything, the ATS paper proves the direct opposite of what its co-authors are claiming.  The ATS blames vaping for the patient’s declining health when, in reality, his symptoms only began to diminish after he successfully transitioned to vaping.  Farsalinos also notes that, to their credit, the co-authors of the ATS study issued the following disclaimer buried deep within the published abstract.

“Due to the fact that the data is cross-sectional, it is unknown whether E-cigs could contribute to COPD development, or if people who have COPD are more likely to use E-cigs (possibly as a harm reduction method).”

Related Article:  New Farsalinos vape study debunks old NEJM ‘formaldehyde myth’

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints, policy or company position of Vapes.com, the rest of our staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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