Vaping is not a safe substitute for smoking and can damage the lungs—a case study of granulomatosis

Oct. 17, 2019

Vaping is not a low-risk substitute for smoking cigarettes, according to researcher Charlie Lin, MD, who authored a case study of a 34-year-old former smoker diagnosed with granulomatosis attributed to two months of electronic cigarette use. Dr. Lin will present his case study at the CHEST Annual Meeting 2019 in New Orleans.

“This case of granulomatosis secondary to electronic cigarette use exemplifies an unintended consequence of ‘vaping,’” Dr. Lin wrote. Granulomas destroy healthy tissue and inflame blood vessels, which can limit blood flow to organs including the lungs.

Electronic cigarettes vaporize liquids for inhalation to simulate the combustion of smoking traditional cigarettes. Until recently, e-cigarettes, with their lack of combustion-produced toxins, were thought to be lower risk than traditional cigarettes. Consequently, e-cigarettes have been heralded as having a perceived role in smoking cessation.

The subject of the case study sought medical evaluation for a new cough and wheeze 10 months after undergoing a bilobectomy for lung cancer. The patient acknowledged that she had begun vaping two months earlier. After a variety of tests, she was diagnosed with granulomatosis.

“Given the recent introduction of electronic cigarettes into our culture and the relatively limited availability of studies delineating health risks arising from their use, further research is necessary to quantify and characterize exposures of specific chemicals within vaporized liquids,” continued Dr. Lin. “This can assist with determination of toxic doses and may inform future regulations regarding safe levels of constituent components within commercially available liquids. Importantly, such investigation can help bolster public knowledge and continue to objectively demonstrate that “vaping,” or inhalation of aerosolized liquids, is not benign, and in fact has known pulmonary consequences,” Dr. Lin concluded.

Victor Test, MD, Co-Chair of the CHEST Scientific Program Committee and Professor of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, commented: “This case report is reflective of the recent increase in reported vaping-associated lung injury. It brings to the surface how little we understand about vaping and its effects on lung health though it does suggest that vaping is not a benign habit.”

CHEST has the release.