NEW YORK — Although the debate over how harmful vaping is for human health rages on, more and more studies continue to suggest e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking tobacco. Now, a new study finds children and adults who take up the habit significantly increase their odds of developing asthma.
Researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto say vapers over the age of 12 not only had a higher risk of suffering an asthma attack, but also displayed more stress and poorer mental health. The findings come from a review of the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS).
Study authors discovered only three percent of the participants reported using e-cigarettes within the previous 30 days before the survey; that’s about one in 32 people studied in the report. Among that small group, one in eight e-cigarette users had asthma. Moreover, the study finds those with asthma have a 24-percent higher likelihood of having an asthma attack within one year. Researchers note nearly half of e-cigarette users also reported smoking traditional cigarettes regularly.
“To curtail the adverse health effects of vaping we should raise the awareness of the potential harmful health effects of vaping, and develop and implement evidence-based strategies to prevent and reduce e-cigarette use, especially in youth,” says Dr. Teresa To in a media release. “We should also provide means and support to help those who currently vape to quit.”
Vaping may also lead to mental health issues
Researchers looked at the health and behavioral habits of over 17,000 people 12 years and older in the CCHS. After accounting for various factors which could affect the results, the study concludes e-cigarette users face a 19-percent greater chance of developing asthma.
Current smokers raised their odds by 20 percent, while former smokers actually increased their chances of having asthma by 33 percent. Researchers discovered those who never smoke or have not used e-cigarettes had no significant link to asthma.
Unfortunately, respiratory trouble is not the only problem study authors uncovered among vapers.
“Interestingly, our study found a significantly higher proportion of those who used e-cigarettes reported fair to poor mental health (15 percent) compared to those who did not vape (7 percent),” Dr. To reports.
“In addition, those who used e-cigarettes had 60 percent higher odds of self-reported high levels of life stress compared to those who did not. While vaping may not cause stress, it appears that vape cravings may be triggered by stress and anxiety, making it harder for the e-cigarette user to quit. This may be particularly relevant during the pandemic when stress and anxiety are highly prevalent.”
“Our findings suggest that e-cigarette use is a modifiable risk factor for asthma to be considered in the primary care of youth and young adults,” the study author concludes.
Researchers presented their findings at the ATS 2021 International Conference.