New Study Shows Vaping Has Different Effect On The Lungs Than Smoking

By Samantha in Health and Fitness On 31st January 2023

A new study published online in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine compares smoking and vaping and has revealed the differences in the ways the two practices affect the lungs.

The study, published divided participants into three different groups by age and sex to compare e-cig users with cigarette smokers.

Researchers also looked at the lungs of five people who have never smoked or vaped to compare results.


Led by Reagan Wetherill, Ph.D., a faculty member at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the researchers used 18F-NOS, a novel radiotracer - a chemical compound in which one or more atoms have been replaced by a radioisotope - to compare lung inflammation between cigarette and e-cigarette users during usage.

Wetherill explained: "iNOS is an enzyme that is overexpressed in e-cigarette users and cigarette smokers and is associated with acute and chronic inflammatory diseases.

"This makes it a relevant target for molecular imaging of lung inflammation and inflammatory lung disease."

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The PET scans of each participant were compared and researchers discovered that those who smoked e-cigs had greater pulmonary inflammation than cigarette smokers and those who have never smoked or vaped. This kind of inflammation occurs when an irritating substance causes the tiny air sacs in your lungs to become inflamed, the Mayo Clinic explains.

The study also revealed a positive association between pulmonary and peripheral measures of inflammation, which suggests the use of e-cigarettes may increase pulmonary inflammation.

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Very Well Health describes symptoms of inflamed lungs as wheezing, breathing problems, and chest pain and tightness. The inflammation can be either short or long-term. It can be treated with medication, though sometimes surgery is needed.

"Having these findings provides patients with additional evidence about the potentially harmful effects of e-cigarette use on the lungs," Wetherill said.

"Our work advances what is currently known about the impacts of e-cigarette use on respiratory health and provides a better understanding of harm and harm reduction associated with e-cigarette use relative to cigarette smoking."

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Jacob Dubroff, MD, Ph.D, senior author on the study and Perelman School of Medicine Department of Radiology faculty member, discussed an increasing need for molecular imaging to understand the effects of electronic cigarettes.

In the wake of the study findings, he commented: "These findings suggest molecular imaging may be uniquely poised to detect and measure the potential pathophysiologic harms associated with electronic cigarettes, which have been touted as a safer vehicle for nicotine compared to traditional combustible cigarettes."