Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is one of the nastier side effects of smoking. While not unique to smokers alone, COPD is known to occur at much higher rates in those who smoke and is currently the third leading cause of death
in the United States. The most effective way to prevent COPD from getting exponentially worse is to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, a tall order to a lifelong smoker with an addiction.
But what about vaping? The effects of switching in whole or in part to vaping nicotine e-juice rather than smoking traditional tobacco products is largely unexplored in COPD patients. However, one of the first peer-reviewed studies
on the topic was released earlier this year in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The results are hopeful.
The study followed 44 COPD patients over the course of three years. Their baseline health was measured by how far they could easily walk within six minutes, their lung functionality, their scores on the COPD Assessment Test and the overall progression of their COPD. Half of them (22) continued to smoke cigarettes and the other half switched either entirely or in part to electronic vaping instead. Those in the second group who were dual users (smoking and vaping) were smoking only about a fourth the amount of cigarettes they had been using before adopting vaping.
The study tracked the baseline health of the participants as well as the relapse rate among those who had switched to vaping.
After 36 months, there was no marked change in the general lung health of any of the participants. However, patients who switched to vaping showed impressive improvements in all other areas. They scored improved results on the COPD Assessment Test and their COPD exacerbation rate was greatly decreased. Patients who used both cigarettes and vaping devices showed similar improvements. Patients who did not vape at all showed no improvements and their COPD continued to progress.
Of the vapers, only two of them (nine percent) relapsed to smoking only cigarettes.
The study was admittedly small. With only 44 participants total, the results cannot be taken as hard proof of the benefits of vaping over smoking for COPD patients. However, the results do seem to suggest that vaping may be a viable method of improving the health of COPD patients and preventing them from relapsing back to smoking. With more research and more information, we can start to truly understand what benefits vaping may be able to provide to many people.