A New Study Shows the Damage Just 3 Years of Vaping Could Do to Your Lungs

December 16, 2019, 11:54 PM UTC

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Happy Monday, readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

We continued to learn more about the long-term effects of vaping and e-cigarette use Monday. A first-of-its kind study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that even moderately extended use of e-cigarettes raise users’ risk for lung illnesses and respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD) and asthma.

Here was the blunt conclusion from researchers at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco: “Use of e-cigarettes is an independent risk factor for respiratory disease in addition to combustible tobacco smoking. Dual use, the most common use pattern, is riskier than using either product alone.”

In plainer terms, vaping and nicotine e-cigarette use carry their own, special respiratory illness risks that are separate from the lung illness risks of using more traditional, combustible tobacco products.

What’s truly striking about the data—stemming from a “longitudinal study,” or one that follows subjects over the course of multiple years in order to suss out health patterns—is that just three years’ worth was able to reveal links between vape use and these chronic lung conditions. The information was collected between 2013 and 2016.

For e-cigarette users, according to the study, the chances of developing a chronic lung condition like COPD, asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema went up by a risk factor of about 1.3; it was even more pronounced for combustible tobacco users, and those who used both suffered from a risk multiplier effect of mixing the products.

The survey included data from more than 32,000 people who were asked about their smoking habits and history of respiratory illness (while controlling for variables such as demographics and various types of smokers).

And this particular study was only focused on adults. As readers know, companies such as Juul have been in the hot seat for allegedly targeting their marketing to children and teens. The long-term effects of consistent e-cigarette use—even if they don’t fall in the same category of the frightening, mysterious lung illnesses which, to this point, appear associated with illicit THC vaping pods—may prove even more pronounced among that group.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


NIH launches pioneering stem cell trial for dying vision cells. The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) appropriately named eye division, the National Eye Institute (NEI), has launched the first-ever clinical trial to test patient-derived stem cells for the treatment of one of the most common vision disorders around—the dry eye disorder of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which mostly afflicts the elderly. These are preliminary studies (though they've shown some promise in animal models), but the implications could be big, allowing scientists to take patients' blood cells, convert them into pluripotent stem cells, and then use them to rebuild patients' vision. (NIH)


Roche finally gets the FTC green light for its Spark Therapeutics buyout. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finally cleared Roche's $4.8 billion deal to acquire gene therapy maker Spark Therapeutics late Monday, setting up a close for a long-languishing biotech M&A. "[A]fter an exhaustive, 10-month investigation into whether the merger would lessen potential competition in the U.S. market for hemophilia A therapies, the evidence 'did not indicate that Roche would have the incentive to delay or terminate Spark’s developmental effort for its hemophilia A gene therapy, or that the acquisition would affect Roche’s incentives regarding [its hemophilia treatment drug] Hemlibra,'" the agency said in a statement. (The concern here was the overlap between Roche's rare blood treatment drug could create an antitrust problem with Spark's experimental therapy.) Spark shares rose 2.55% in Monday trading.


Government spending bill set to repeal major Obamacare pay-fors. Here's a list of things Congress was ostensibly going to do on a bipartisan basis before year's end: Pass a drug pricing bill of some kind meant to lower costs, and pass a bill to address the persistent problem of surprise medical billing that can leave patients with massive, unexpected health costs. Here's what it looks like legislators will actually do: Pass a year-end spending bill that will permanently repeal three of Obamacare's most unpopular taxes (which were meant to pay for the costs of the law but have been put off or watered down for the past decade)—the "Cadillac tax" on expensive employer health plans (strongly opposed by unions), the 2.3% tax on medical devices (strongly opposed by medical device makers), and the law's broad health insurance tax (strongly opposed by health insurers). It would appear the industries all scored the wins and losses they wanted. (Politico)

Congress could hike smoking age to 21. On a separate note, here's one health-related law Congress may be poised to pass: A bill to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. This is a measure that multiple states and municipalities have already undertaken, and it comes at a time when the tobacco industry in the hot seat (although, as we've previously reported, they could well have a Plan B for the situation).


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