Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a potentially life-threatening condition that can become worsened by cigarette use. The tobacco found in cigarettes, as we all know very well, damages lung tissue, putting the user at risk of developing progressive lung diseases like emphysema as the person continues smoking. However, new research suggests that turning to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking might be able to actually reverse the effects of COPD, allowing a person’s lung tissue to heal and potentially saving their life.
The research in question was only performed recently, but its results are extremely promising and will likely lead to further studies regarding the long-term effects of vaping compared to the long-term effects of smoking. Obviously, the vaping community is delighted by this study as it will hopefully lead to a more vape-friendly attitude from the FDA and the general public.
What is COPD?
COPD refers to any progressive disease that affects the lungs. Common examples are chronic bronchitis, emphysema and refractory pneumonia. COPD is frequently linked to smoking due to the strong correlation between cigarette use and damaged lung tissue, but it can be caused by other factors as well, including genetics, exposure to pollutants and certain autoimmune disorders.
The first symptoms of COPD are usually:
COPD can be difficult to diagnose because frequently the patient believes that they simply have a cold or an allergy and ignore the symptoms until they become so severe that their quality of life is severely impacted.
How Smoking Affects COPD
We don’t have to dig too deep to find the link between smoking and COPD. Cigarette smoke contains about one thousand chemicals that vary in levels of toxicity. Among the most dangerous chemicals is tar, a sticky substance that coats the tissue of the lungs, interfering with their function dramatically while causing them to get worse over time as the user continues to smoke. Emphysema in particular is widely associated with long-term cigarette use and can lead to death.
Can Vaping Actually Reverse COPD?
Up until recently, telling a patient to quit smoking in order to prevent COPD from becoming advanced was easier said than done. Smoking cessation products like nicotine gum and nicotine patches famously have a ten percent success rate and often result in the user going back to smoking in less than a year. Now, however, we have vaping, a smoking cessation product that is twice as effective at getting a person to stop smoking for good.
Vaping is unique in that it provides the user with nicotine without any of the other toxic chemicals found in cigarettes. One recent study found that people who vaped regularly over a period of a couple of years did not develop the lung damage associated with cigarette use. Researchers found that there was no major change to their lung tissue and that they did not develop chronic respiratory symptoms associated with smoking.
If you’re wondering why there’s only recently been such a high volume of studies regarding the effects of vaping, it’s because of how new the industry is. Vaping has only been popular for a handful of years, meaning that up until now, scientists have not been able to actually study how this activity affects a person’s body over a fairly long period of time. Now that vaping has been in the mainstream for over five years, researchers can finally take an in-depth look into the ways in which this activity impacts the respiratory system.
The researchers who determined that COPD can be reversed by switching to e-cigarettes studied the lungs of the participants over the course of three yerars. The study determined many positive things about vaping, including the fact that it does not appear to negatively affect the overall health of the lungs and that it can reverse the shortness of breath that is so common among COPD sufferers.
Interestingly, the study also found that people who switched to vaping after being a smoker showed improved overall health and more physical activity.
This research was partially inspired by another study that found that asthma patients who became vapers after years of smoking saw their symptoms decrease dramatically. The theory is that once a person switches to vaping, their lungs can begin repairing themselves, leading to a reversal of the progression of the disease. By constantly exposing the lungs to cigarettes, the respiratory system never gets a chance to heal.
The study also demonstrated the effectiveness of using vaping as a smoking cessation tool. Researchers observed that over the course of three years, only two out of the 22 participants relapsed and became smokers again.
This led to the researchers claiming that vaping needs to be destigmatized so that the medical community can recommend it to their patients who smoke. The researchers believe that by informing patients that vaping is a better alternative, more lives will be saved as COPD cases will decrease around the country.
Meanwhile, those who vape can rest easy yet again in the knowledge that their hobby is likely not going to lead to serious lung diseases. Now, time will tell if the FDA uses this research to create more vape-friendly regulations.
Could Vaping Really Control This Epidemic?
COPD can indeed be deadly, but if more smokers discover that vaping is a better alternative for their respiratory health, perhaps we can make this epidemic a thing of the past.