Study: Asthmatic Smokers Who Switch To Vaping Reap Health Rewards

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

Asthmatic smokers who switch to vaping could enjoy significant recovery in their lung and respiratory function, according to a new study published in Discovery Medicine.

Smokers with asthma are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of inhaling tobacco smoke and can suffer more severely from the respiratory harms associated with smoking. The study acknowledges the best solution for asthmatics to recover and reduce their risk of disease is to quit smoking cold turkey. But it also found many smokers find quitting incredibly difficult and have more success switching over to e-cigarettes.

“Most studies show an accelerated decline in lung function and increased airflow obstruction and even worse, asthma patients who smoke appear to have a reduced response to anti-asthma drugs, compared to asthmatics who do not smoke,” says professor Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania, who led the study. He adds: “When given only the options of smoking or completely giving up nicotine, many will not give it up.”

The research team examined 18 smokers with moderate to mild asthma who quit smoking by switching vaping. The team followed up with the subjects at a six, twelve and 24-month interval.

“Significant improvements in respiratory symptoms and lung function have been consistent, with similar positive results being reported in dual users, that is, those who smoked and vaped simultaneously,” Polosa said. (RELATED: Mayo Clinic: E-Cigarettes Mitigate Risks Of Smoking Before And After Operations)

According to Polosa, switching to e-cigarettes can help improve clinical, functional and therapeutic outcomes for smokers with asthma, which could increase over the long-term. The study even suggests some damage caused to asthmatic smokers could be reversed, including lung function.

But the authors concede there are limitations to the study including its size and the fact that the subjects were self-selected, so they may not be representative of typical e-cigarette users.

Despite its drawbacks, the researchers observed health benefits in each case during follow-up visits. “The present study confirms that regular e-Cigarette use ameliorates objective and subjective disease outcomes in asthma and shows that these beneficial effects may persist in the long term,” the study says.

“Large controlled studies are now warranted to elucidate the emerging role of the e-vapor category for smoking cessation and/or reversal of harm in asthma patients who smoke.”

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