Scientists warn of bogus animal studies; confirm improved lung health of vaping

A comprehensive study on the possible effects of e-cigarette aerosol emissions confirms that vaping is significantly less harmful to the respiratory system compared to smoking.  The research led by Dr. Richard Polosa seemingly aligns with guidance provided by the British Lung Foundation, the UK’s Public Health England, and other experts in the field of tobacco harm reduction.

The new study recently published in July 2019 appears in the medical journal Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine. The findings are newsworthy because of the co-authors’ focus on electronic cigarettes’ possible adverse effects on the lungs, airways, and throat. The scientific community largely agrees that these areas of the human body are the primary targets for potential harm caused by vaping or smoking.  

The review paper also attempts to address the rising levels of public confusion surrounding the many health benefits of vaping versus smoking.  News reports claiming that e-cigs cause heart attacks, strokes, and even epileptic seizures continue to dominant social media which only exacerbate these public misperceptions further.

Vaping studies involving rodents don’t count

However, the co-authors indicate that many of these so-called “vaping studies” are poorly designed and offer findings that are grossly inaccurate, at best.  Many of these less-authoritative papers often involve animal testing, usually mice and rodents, which often lead to misguided claims about e-cigs.  The authors warn that animal studies “have limited value” and “are not robust indicators of the potential health risks of using e-cigarette” among adult humans.

Related Article:   New study shows vaping has no affect on 'respiratory toxicity' of the lungs

Another common problem with many of these bogus reports, the authors further claim, is that they usually avoid making comparisons of vaping versus smoking in their published conclusions. This failure makes their findings almost impossible to interpret by the average consumer.

For example, many animal studies often suggest that vaping can lead to increased levels of respiratory inflammation, irritation, oxidative stress and impairments of the cardiovascular and immune systems.  Unfortunately, the researchers of these less reputable studies rarely translate how the animal’ biometric reactions compare to those of humans.

Vaping, smoking, and the human factor

The Polosa team believes that only research conducted with human test subjects provides the most relevant data, especially regarding the possible effects of vaping on the respiratory tract.  The study further confirms that vaping is unlikely to cause significant adverse effects in almost any area of human health. When vapers use the devices properly, under normal use conditions, and by only adult smokers trying to quit, human-tested research indicates many documented health benefits include the following.

  • Improvements in respiratory symptoms, such as smoker’s cough, shortness of breath, and increased phlegm production
  • “Progressive significant improvement” in asthma-related symptoms
  • Reduction in COPD-related symptoms, including a less frequent need for infections, improved breathing capacities, and increased exercise capacities
  • No vaping studies utilizing human-based testing practices currently exist which report serious adverse events of vaping versus smoking.

Scientists issue dire warning: More vaping industry ‘disruption’ imminent

While the Polosa team’s paper entitled The effect of e-cigarette aerosol emissions on respiratory health: a narrative review once again confirms that vaping is up to 95 percent less harmful than smoking, the co-authors also issue a rather stark warning.  As public confusion continues to mount surrounding the health advantages or perceived negative effects of vaping, the amounts of disinformation spreading online is only expected to escalate further in the months to come. 

“More disruption will occur. The critical distinction in public health and consumer policy is that of a fastmoving tech innovation that is obsoleting combustible tobacco products. This is likely to bring more disruption among the enemies of innovation and lovers of status quo in tobacco control. This disruption has been already set in motion; more countries will follow the positive developments in Japan, Korea, England, New Zealand, Canada and Iceland that by promoting a widespread and complete adoption of new technologies it is possible to substantially accelerate declines in smoking prevalence.”

The report also acknowledges that very little is known about the long-term effects of vaping on the human respiratory system.  The co-authors note that, 'Only large long-range prospective studies of vapers who have never smoked can provide definitive data to demonstrate any potential impacts regular use of vaping products may have on long term health'. For this reason, vaping is only recommended for adult smokers trying to kick the habit. Teenagers and adults who have never smoked should still avoid e-cig usage until adequate research involving adult never smokers can be thoroughly and investigated. 

Related Article:   New study shows no negative health impacts after 3.5 years of vaping

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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