Sunday, 24 April 2016

How does vaping really affect our health?

We've all seen the horror stories in the media, reporting that e-cigarettes will give you popcorn lung, cancer and other health problems. A lot of so called scientists have looked for problems, and they've published studies claiming that they've found them as well. In the most extreme cases we've been told that e-cigarettes and vaping is even more dangerous than smoking, and the media keeps on reporting these stories. According to what has been reported in this area since I started vaping, I should be really ill and probably don't have many months left to live right now. So why am I feeling great then?

One of the problems, of course, is that the media writes whatever generates clicks and don't care too much about if the research they report is any good. I've written about a few of these cases before (for example here and here) and there are of course quite a few problems. I've also seen claims that e-cigarette vapor will make cancer in rats worse... if you let them breathe only vapor for weeks, and that you can kill human lung cells by drowing them in e-liquid. The one thing that all these studies have in common is that they do not study how e-cigarettes affect smokers, or humans in general actually, in real life. They all set out to find a problem, and to find it they had to go to pretty extreme measures, designing scenarios that would never happen in the real world. In most cases it's pretty obvious as well, at least for people who have some clue of what vaping is all about, which should be a pre-requisite to be allowed to publish these studies, don't you think? As Boromir would have said: One does not simply endure dry-puffing on an e-cig for very long. This is also the reason that I, despite that I should be feeling shit according to the media and certain "scientists", feel great. I don't sleep inside a small chamber filled with vapor, I don't poor pure nicotine into my lungs and I hate the taste of a dry-hit.

Meanwhile, in the real world, someone has actually studied how e-cigarettes. I wasn't aware of this study until I read about it on yesterday: Long Term Study Shows Vaping Improves Health. Now that sounds like it coincides a lot better with my own experience. The original study was published in November last year from what I can see. So in the real world vaping has helped people resolve problems like Bronchitis, Asthma, recurring respiratory infections and shortness of breath among others. Sounds familiar. Remember that this is a study that are looking at long term effects of vaping, we're talking of people who, like me, have vaped for at least three years:
Health effects related to changing to e-cigarettes were pronounced and very positive. In the subgroup of vapers with 3 or more years of use, adverse heath events decreased from 1.78 while smoking to 0.07 after starting to vape. This amounts to a 96% decrease in self-reported adverse health events [...] The group as a whole reported on average a decline of 1.1 (61.8%) adverse health events (resolution of existing conditions, or improvement) after starting to vape.
As you can see, in the real world, vaping improves the health of smoker significantly. The doctor behind the study, Robert L. Cranfield MD, even managed to dig up 10 vapers with no history of smoking.... and they didn't report any problems either.
While the number of never smoker using e-cigarettes is low in all studies, there are still enough of them to gather information as a basis of harm potential to never smokers as a result of use of vapor products. This study showed no increased adverse health events in the limited pool of 10 individuals found.
While this of course do not show that never smokers will have positive health effects from vaping, and the positive effects experience by smokers who switch are of course due to the fact that they quit smoking, it leads to a very important conclusion:
We cannot assume that a 95% harm reduction in smokers means a 5% risk of harm to never smokers.
Actually, pure logic would lead to this conclusion, but I've seen the argument used by the ANTZ more than once.

This shows that when studying potential harms from vaping, or actually this goes for studying potential harm in general, it's important to study real life, not made up fantasy scenarios designed to find problems. You see the reason I'm still feeling great is that I actually live in the real world (well most of the time at least). I highly recommend reading the report, it's not that long and well worth it.

Vapour UK

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