Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, is a term given to a collection of lung conditions that affect the sufferer’s ability to empty air out of their lungs due to the narrowing of airways. It causes the lungs to lose the ability to function properly as they become hardened over time making breathing in and out more difficult. It is also a condition that mainly affects smokers.
The most significant thing about patients with COPD is that they are very reluctant to quit smoking, and there is a much higher relapse rate amongst those who try. Most COPD sufferers will continue to smoke until the disease ends their life.
Research into Vaping and COPD
In August 2018 a study was published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, led by Riccardo Polosa, MD, PhD (Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine of the University of Catania, Italy), that suggests the use of E-cigarettes may reverse some of the harm caused by tobacco smoking.
Although this study was conducted on a relatively small group of patients, 44, the results were interesting enough to warrant addition to the ever-growing data demonstrating the health benefits of using E-cigarettes over conventional tobacco smoking.
The study took the group of 44 COPD patients and divided them into two groups, 22 in each. One group of patients carried on smoking tobacco products, and there was no evidence of any improvements in their health over the three year study period. This group was the control group to realistically compare results to.
The other 22 patients were either using a combination of E-cigarettes and smoking, dual users, or switched completely to the use of E-cigarettes. This group had far more significant changes to their COPD condition.
Results after just one year showed that the number of cigarettes smoked by the dual users had significantly reduced. From a mean of 21.9 cigarettes a day at the beginning to a mean of 2 a day at the 12 month follow up.
Respiratory infections and COPD exacerbations had markedly reduced, and respiratory physiology was not worsened by E-cigarette use.
The dual and E-cigarette users showed consistently improved overall health and physical activity.
Interestingly the number of relapsed users returning to cigarette smoking was very low, only 8.3% of the group.
Of the dual users the reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked was very significant, on average they smoked 75% less than they had before.
All patients in the study that were either dual users or had made the total switch to E-cigarettes demonstrated a far better quality of life and amelioration in their respiratory parameters.
Although the sample size used in the study was relatively small, the results have been very positive for the mounting evidence that the use of E-cigarettes can be beneficial to certain health issues.
The main thing to stopping the progression of COPD is to quit smoking. If the use of E-cigarettes helps patients who traditionally find it very difficult to quit, give up, then this can only be a positive. As the study showed that only 8.3% of the study group relapsed into smoking, it shows how important it is to consider the use of E-cigarettes as an alternative.
E-cigarettes are an effective way of quitting smoking as they reproduce the smoking experience with similar rituals and replace both physical and behavioural needs of the smoker.
The study showed that COPD exacerbations were halved in patients who stopped or considerably reduced smoking. This is a very positive finding which only serves to confirm the potential that E-cigarettes offer to reversal of harm caused by smoking. Any potential health risks of e-cigarettes are greatly outweighed by the harmful nature of combustible tobacco products.
It is widely agreed that there needs to be further studies made into the benefits of using E-cigarettes to help stop any further damage to patients lungs. The studies done to date have also not shown any negative impact to health in the use of the E-cigarette.