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E-cigarettes are Poor Substitutes for Conventional Smoking in COPD Patients

According to a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, e-cigarettes do not benefit patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are attempting to stop smoking or prevent nicotine-related health complications from occurring. Although e-cigarettes are increasingly popular, there are few studies highlighting the “long-term effects of vaping”.

nov2017 004The study, “Electronic Use in U.S. Adults at Risk for or with COPD: Analysis from Two Observational Cohorts,” was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine who gathered and analyzed data from two COPD-focused studies, the COPDGene study and SPIROMICS.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of e-cigs in the United States, and it’s unclear what the potential consequences are among smokers at-risk or with COPD,” M. Bradley Drummond, MD, MHS, director of the Obstructive Lung Diseases Clinical and Translational Research Center at the UNC School of Medicine, said.

“But there is virtually no information available on older individuals at-risk or with COPD. So we’ve leveraged the data that has already been gathered from two existing COPD-focused [groups] as a way to begin to address this lack of information.” Drummond added.

Overall, the goal of the study “was to determine the use pattern of e-cigarettes,” as well as analyze any beneficial health effects resulting from the use of e-cigarettes among older adults with COPD or those with a high risk of developing it. Surprisingly, researchers discovered that substituting conventional cigarettes with e-cigarettes did not yield any benefits.

In fact, patients who reported to use both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes “had the worst outcome in the study.” Drummond believes this stems from the fact that dual users consume more nicotine than those who solely smoke conventional cigarettes.

“We expected to see that folks who quit combustibles would have decreased symptoms because of their decreased tobacco use, but that wasn’t the case.” Drummond said. “Individuals who had tried e-cigarettes as a way to reduce their use of conventional cigarettes were actually less likely to reduce their use or quit combustible cigarettes than those who had never tried e-cigarettes.”

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