Study shows that vaping can trigger same harmful lung changes seen in cigarette smokers

A new study has found that long-term use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, can trigger the same biological changes seen in cigarette smokers who develop emphysema. The study adds to a growing number of studies pointing to the potential harmful effects of vaping.

In the study, researchers sampled lung fluid from 41 subjects, including nonsmokers, smokers, and vapers. They found that the lungs of vapers—like the lungs of cigarette smokers—had significantly elevated levels of three kinds of protease enzymes, chemicals that are known to damage air sacs in the lungs and are thought to cause emphysema in smokers over time. They also found that the nicotine found in vaping liquid was responsible for the increase in protease enzymes. The findings suggest that vaping, like cigarette smoking, might promote emphysema, the researchers say.

The study, funded in part by NHLBI, appeared in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.