The first report to date on the potential long-term effects of vaping has just been released, and e-cigarette users will be happy (and perhaps feel some small vindication) after hearing the results. For the past several years health experts have been warning us about the “potential” long-term health effects of vaping, but the latest data implies that many of those concerns may be unwarranted. While the study covers a relatively short time period of time, vaping is still in its infancy and its the only research that we have (so far) covering multiple years of regular e-cigarette usage.
The study, published in November 2017 Scientific Reports, was conducted using two groups; one comprised of daily e-cigarette users who had never smoked tobacco and the other of people who never vaped or smoked tobacco. Over the course of 3.5 years, researchers observed comparative health outcomes of the two groups that included blood pressure, body weight, heart rate, lung and respiratory function and exhaled biomarkers of airway inflammation.
The Results of Long-Term E-Cigarette Usage
With lung health being the most obvious concern related to vaping, researchers were looking for detectable changes in lung capacity, compromised air ways, development of respiratory symptoms and lung inflammation in the participants who vaped compared to those who never smoked or used e-cigarettes. Surprising to many, after 3.5 years of daily usage, results of the study found that there was no discernible difference between the lungs of regular e-cigarette users and those with zero exposure to vapor products.
In addition, many health experts are concerned about the impact of vaping on the cardiovasular system. Although smoking has long been linked to high blood pressure and heart attacks, no one is sure how long-term vaping affects the cardiovasular system. Once again, this study only covers 3.5 years, but researchers observed no obvious changes in blood pressure or heart rate among vapers.
And not surprisingly, the ridiculous concerns about “popcorn lung” that are so often reported by the media did not develop in any participants; even among those who inhaled the higher concentrations of diacetyl.
A Positive Sign of Things to Come?
Besides the fact that it only covered 3.5 years, it should also be noted that only a small pool of vapers was evaluated during this study. Considering the vast majority of vapor users are former smokers, it should come as no surprise that finding a large group of participants who never smoked was likely a difficult task. Putting those issues aside, this is still the first real look at the effects of long-term vaping, and hopefully a positive sign of things to come in terms of research.
So far the evidence has been overwhelmingly positive, but with the widespread use of e-cigarettes still in its infancy, years of additional research will be required to provide a complete picture of the long-term effects of vaping. If we’re already demonstrating that over the course of 3.5 years there are no detectable, negative or accumulative health concerns related to vaping, is it likely that over 10, 15 or 20 years the results could be the same? Only time will tell.
We can only hope that politicians and policy makers will take a serious look at studies like this before they attempt to regulate vaping into oblivion. We may not have a definitive answer on the long-term health effects of vaping yet, but research has continued to support that vaping is a much healthier alternative to smoking and a helpful aide in reducing tobacco usage.