New study reveals lung health of young e-cigarette users could be affected
E-cigarettes, which contain nicotine in liquid form and "vaporize", do not smoke, have been marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. But e-cigarettes are so new that scientists are only beginning to piece together their health effects, especially among younger vapers.
This week, a new study found that vaping may be linked to breathing problems in teens who pick up an e-cigarette habit.
Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 juniors and seniors in a long-term study of children's health. They compared the lung health of current or former e-cig users with that of teens who had never smoked, looking at reports of symptoms such as a persistent cough, congestion, phlegm and bronchitis.
The researchers found that, compared to those who never tried e-cigarettes, the risk of respiratory symptoms was nearly twice as high among previous users, and more than double among current users. And the more teens vaped, the higher their risk.
Although it is not entirely clear which component of e-cigarettes may pose a respiratory risk, there are some possibilities. "Metals, e-liquid vehicle glycerol, and nicotine all have potentially toxic effects on the lung," said Rob McConnell, M.D., who led the study. The flavorings that are so popular with teens are also potentially dangerous, he added.
More research is needed in this area to confirm these findings. Other factors, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, and socioeconomic differences, for two, could have played some elevated respiratory risk among current e-cig users (although they did not explain the problems in previous users).
But the new evidence corroborates scattered case reports that have also linked e-cigs to respiratory problems in some users. McConnell plans to continue to follow these teens to see if the association between e-cig use and compromised lung health continues into adulthood.
“Teens may be unaware of the respiratory potential and other dangers of e-cigarettes, rationalizing that they are a safer alternative to cigarettes,” says Consumer Reports Medical Director Orly Avitzur, MD. “We need to help educate our teens about you are probably risking your health by smoking e-cigs. "
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use has increased in recent years, especially among young people. In 2015, 16 percent of high school students reported using the devices, compared to just 1.5 percent in 2011.
By Chris Hendel
Original article (in English)