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Study suggests vaping can reverse lung damage in smokers with asthma

Can vaping reduce the onset of asthma attacks in patients who smoke?  A recent study published by Professor Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania seems to indicate that it can.  Furthermore, the research also suggests that vaping may be able to essentially reverse lung damage caused from smoking.

Doctors of asthmatic patients are often faced with a difficult dilemma.  Should they encourage their patients to quit smoking, knowing that the resulting stress and anxiety can increase the likelihood of asthma attacks?  Or should physicians focus more on managing the asthma-related symptoms?  The Polosa study entitled Persisting long term benefits of smoking abstinence and reduction in asthmatic smokers who have switched to electronic cigarettes attempts to address this issue head-on.  The full report is readily available on the Discovery Medicine website. 

Overview of the Polosa vaping study

The Polosa research team began by tracking the progress of 18 asthmatic smokers over the course of two-years. Each participant agreed in advance to make the switch from smoking to vaping.  Meanwhile, the scientists monitored each patient for a variety of factors at the beginning, end, and at six-month intervals throughout the study.  Respiratory and asthma-related symptoms monitored include the following.

  • Overall respiratory and lung functions
  • Hyper-responsive rates of air passageways
  • Asthma attack rates and control levels
  • Methacholine PC20 and ACQ scores
  • Levels of related asthma symptoms
  • Tobacco vs. vaping consumption levels


To be clear, not every participant was successful in making a complete transition from smoking to vaping over the entire two-year time frame.  Two of the volunteers relapsed into smoking entirely, and another participant admitted to engaging in dual use. And while many might consider the control group to be relatively small for a vaping study of this significance, Dr. Polosa and his team consider their research to be a valuable first step in the battle to aid asthmatic smokers overcome their dependency on combustible tobacco.

“The present study confirms that regular EC use ameliorates objective and subjective disease outcomes in asthma and shows that these beneficial effects may persist in the long term. Large controlled studies are now warranted to elucidate the emerging role of the e-vapor category for smoking cessation and/or reversal of harm in asthma patients who smoke. Nonetheless, the notion that substitution of conventional cigarettes with EC is unlikely to raise significant respiratory concerns, can improve counseling between physicians and their asthmatic patients who are using or intend to use ECs.”

In the conclusions section of the report, the Polosa team also makes perfectly clear that the two participants who reverted back to smoking over the course of the two-year study experienced significant deterioration in their methacholine PC20 and ACQ scores compared to those who transitioned to vaping.  However, the researchers also suggest that vaping may eventually be determined to possess the capabilities of reversing lung damage in both asthmatic and traditional smokers, if the scientific community continues to build on current research.

This medical theory is supported by a vaping survey conducted by Konstantinos E. Farsalinos in 2014.  The latter research team surveyed some 19,000 former smokers-turned-vapers who also suffered from Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Through the course of their work, the researchers discovered that a whopping 76 percent of COPD smokers reported significant improvements in respiratory function, endurance, and olfactory and gustatory senses after switching to vaping-only.   





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