Short-term vaping can trigger the inflammation that causes lung disease

A study out of The Ohio State University has found that even short-term vaping can trigger inflammation in adults who have never previously smoked. This is the first time researchers have found changes in the lungs associated with short-term vaping by 'never-smokers,' highlighting the potential health risks of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products.

The study involved having participants vape using electronic cigarettes for four weeks; the vaping liquid didn't contain flavors or nicotine. After the four weeks, the participants underwent a bronchoscopy that found inflammation-caused cellular changes.

Because the study excluded nicotine and flavors, the results indicate that propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin — the two main ingredients in vaping liquid — may pave the way for inflammatory lung diseases in people who vape. Inflammation is also a driving factor for the development of cancer.

The study's senior author Peter Shields, MD, said:

The implication of this study is that longer term use, increased daily use and the addition of flavors and nicotine may promote additional inflammation. The general perception among the public is that e-cigs are 'safer' than cigarettes. The reality is the industry is changing so fast – and with minimal regulation – that usage is outpacing the rate of our scientific understanding.

The study joins a growing body of research that investigates the health effects of vaping. This isn't the first study to find inflammation as a result of vaping, though past research has involved participants who vaped for longer periods of time and liquids that included flavorings. The work arrives amid the ongoing outbreak of a vaping-related lung condition called EVALI.