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E-Cigarettes Significantly Raise Risk of Chronic Lung Disease, First Long-Term Study Finds

‘Dual Use’ of Both E-Cigarettes and Smoked Tobacco is Riskiest, Say Authors

By Jason Alvarez | UCSF.edu | December 16, 2019

E-Cigarettes Significantly Raise Risk of Chronic Lung Disease, First Long-Term Study Finds

E-cigarette use significantly increases a person’s risk of developing chronic lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to new UC San Francisco research, the first longitudinal study linking e-cigarettes to respiratory illness in a sample representative of the entire U.S. adult population. 

The study also found that people who used e-cigarettes and also smoked tobacco – by far the most common pattern among adult e-cigarette users – were at an even higher risk of developing chronic lung disease than those who used either product alone.

The findings were published Dec. 16, 2019, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and are based on an analysis of publicly available data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), which tracked e-cigarette and tobacco habits as well as new lung disease diagnoses in over 32,000 American adults from 2013 to 2016.

Though several earlier population studies had found an association between e-cigarette use and lung disease at a single point in time, these so-called cross-sectional studies provided a snapshot that made it impossible for researchers to say whether lung disease was being caused by e-cigarettes or if people with lung disease were more likely to use e-cigarettes.

By starting with people who did not have any reported lung disease, taking account of their e-cigarette use and smoking from the start, and then following them for three years, the new longitudinal study offers stronger evidence of a causal link between adult e-cigarette use and lung diseases than prior studies. 

“What we found is that for e-cigarette users, the odds of developing lung disease increased by about a third, even after controlling for their tobacco use and their clinical and demographic information,” said senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD, a UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Read more at UCSF.edu