Current medial research shows that patients suffering from asthma tend to see a steady decline in respiratory function as they age. With each asthma attack, the cumulative harm to lung tissues becomes more and more severe. Asthma medications can only provide a limited level of relief. In fact, physicians treating asthmatics already know that the prescribed medications will only become less effective over time. In short, asthmatic patients gradually become immune to the medications with prolonged use.
A team of Italian scientists may have discovered a solution to this age-old problem. Led by Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania, the researchers followed a control group of eighteen smoking asthmatics over the course of two years. It is the first longitudinal health study of its kind which focusses on the potential health benefits of vaping nicotine in possibly reversing lung damage caused by asthma.
The Polosa vaping and asthma study
The Polosa study entitled Persisting long term benefits of smoking abstinence and reduction in asthmatic smokers is recently published in Discovery Medicine. The scientists began by monitoring and evaluating the different respiratory functions of the control group at periodic intervals throughout the two-year vaping study. At Every six months, the researchers measured the AHR, FEV1, FEF25-75, ACQ, PC20, and FVC levels. They also monitored the following respiratory and lung functions:
- Asthma management and control
- Asthma exacerbation rates
- Airway responsivity rates
- Daily cigarette and vaping consumption rates
- Progression or digression of their asthma-related symptoms
All participants in the study were given the same vaping device and e-liquid. Of the original eighteen members of the control group, some were vapers-only. Others were classified as dual users, and two were disqualified after it was discovered that they had returned solely to smoking. What the scientists discovered is that the vapers-only group experienced improved scores in nearly all biomarkers, but most especially in their related ACQ and PC20 scores. Dual users also saw improvements, but to a lessor degree.
“The present study confirms that regular EC use ameliorates objective and subjective disease outcomes in asthma and shows that these beneficial effects may persist in the long term. Large controlled studies are now warranted to elucidate the emerging role of the e-vapor category for smoking cessation and/or reversal of harm in asthma patients who smoke. Nonetheless, the notion that substitution of conventional cigarettes with EC is unlikely to raise significant respiratory concerns, can improve counseling between physicians and their asthmatic patients who are using or intend to use ECs.”
The Polosa team falls short of claiming that vaping nicotine can definitively reverse the lung damage caused by asthma, but they remain hopefully optimistic that they are on the right track. The small size of this initial control group limits the reliability of the published findings. So, Polosa and his team are planning more studies of a similar nature in the years to come.