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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / March 2019 / UR CTSI-Supported Study Links Electronic Cigarettes and Wheezing in Adults

UR CTSI-Supported Study Links Electronic Cigarettes and Wheezing in Adults

man exhales e-cigarette smokeA new study funded in part by the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UR CTSI) has uncovered a link between vaping (using electronic cigarettes) and wheezing in adults. People who vaped were nearly twice as likely to experience wheezing, which is often a precursor to other serious health conditions, compared to people who didn’t regularly use tobacco products, according to the study published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Study author Deborah J. Ossip, Ph.D., a tobacco research expert and professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), says the findings are consistent with past research.  

“The take-home message is that electronic cigarettes are not safe when it comes to lung health,” says Ossip, who is also co-director of the Center for Leading Innovation and Collaboration, which is housed within the UR CTSI. “The changes we’re seeing with vaping, both in laboratory experiments and studies of people who vape, are consistent with early signs of lung damage, which is very worrisome.”

Lead study author Dongmei Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Translational Research, and other colleagues at URMC analyzed data from more than 28,000 adults in the U.S. who took part in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study. After adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, body mass index, secondhand smoke exposure and other factors, adult vapers were 1.7 times more likely to experience wheezing and related respiratory symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) compared to non-users.

Despite some limitations, senior study author Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at URMC, says the research clearly identifies another health repercussion from vaping. This is particularly concerning given new data released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that shows a dramatic uptick in youth vaping. According to the report, in 2018 vaping increased by 78 percent among ninth to 12th graders and 48 percent in sixth to eighth graders.

With the emergence of small, sleek vaping devices like Juuls that are used with nicotine pods in hundreds of different flavors (popular flavoring chemicals include fruit, candy and dessert), Rahman fears the number of young people who vape will continue to grow and that serious health consequences, including allergies, loss of immunity, and subsequent infections will follow.

Read the full press release.

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Research reported in this study was conducted by the Western New York Center for Research on Flavored Tobacco Products, a program led by scientists at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, and URMC. The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the University of Rochester CTSA award number UL1 TR002001 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products under Award Number U54CA228110. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the FDA.

Susanne Pritchard Pallo | 3/1/2019

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