Doctors very critical of alarmist e-cigarette study
A recent study argues that electronic cigarettes increase the risk of respiratory illnesses. But the vapers studied were all ... former smokers.
Is the electronic cigarette a safe alternative to tobacco?
While most international medical bodies say yes, a new study has added fuel to the fire. Published December 16 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it says vaping, like tobacco, increases the risk of respiratory illnesses and therefore recommends against e-cigarettes. But the study is far from flawless, earning it significant criticism from some doctors.
At first glance, she has everything to convince. The researchers followed 32,000 adults between 2013 and 2016. The latter were classified into five categories: smokers, ex-smokers, vapers, ex-vapers and finally, those who have never smoked or vaped. At the same time, the study authors identified all cases of respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema, asthma) occurring during the three years of follow-up.
They then found that vapers had a 30% higher risk of developing respiratory disease compared to people who never smoked or vaped. A fallacious observation, according to Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg because the vast majority of these vapers are in fact ... former smokers! How do you know if e-cigarettes are the cause of these illnesses, or if the years of smoking are to blame? "They should have compared the rates of respiratory disease in ex-smokers who vape and in ex-smokers who have never vaped," criticizes the pulmonologist, for whom vaping is a very valuable tool for smoking cessation. "The worst thing," the doctor continues, "is that the authors probably have this data but they do not disclose it."
"The rate of respiratory illnesses found in this study among vapers is entirely consistent with what is observed in smokers who have never vaped," says Professor Dautzenberg. Clearly, this study does not allow to say that the electronic cigarette alone causes lung diseases. "All that we can say is that the occurrence of respiratory symptoms is linked to smoking, that smoking and vaping at the same time does not reduce the risk but that switching from cigarettes to vaping considerably reduces this risk", the doctor continues.
A finding shared by several scientists, including Professor John Britton, director of the Center for Studies on Tobacco and Alcohol at the University of Nottingham (England) who, in a right of reply published by the British daily The Times, explains, “These results are biased by the fact that most vapers have smoked in the past. And since smoking is a major cause of chronic lung disease, ex-vapers inevitably have an additional risk of developing this type of disease, even long after quitting. "
Effects actually due to tobacco
In June 2019, the same team published a similar study, which claimed that vaping increased cardiovascular risks. "Here again, the results were biased," says Professor Dautzenberg. It was not the vape that caused these heart attacks: it was especially that a large number of former smokers who had suffered heart attacks had taken to the vape. "
At present, data regarding the long-term risks of electronic cigarettes are lacking. But health authorities agree that it greatly reduces the risks of smoking when used as a means of quitting. One study even showed it could prevent millions of deaths. On the other hand, it can never be recommended to non-smokers.
By Le Figaro, Cécile Thibert. https://www.sante.lefigaro.fr/
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