NEW YORK, Aug. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study
that was recently published in the International Journal of
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, led by Riccardo Polosa, MD, PhD (Department of Clinical
and Experimental Medicine of the University of Catania,
Italy), suggests that electronic
cigarette (EC) use may reverse some of the harm resulting from
tobacco smoking in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD). Furthermore, EC use may ameliorate objective and
subjective COPD outcomes, which may persist in the long term.
The investigators conducted a long-term prospective reevaluation
of changes in objective and subjective respiratory parameters in a
total of 44 COPD patients: those who had ceased conventional
cigarette smoking or substantially reduced it by switching to EC
use (n=22) compared to control COPD patients who were smokers not
using EC at the time of the study (n=22). The compelling findings
of the study showed that COPD patients who switched to EC presented
the following positive long-term (3-year) effects:
- Significantly reduced conventional cigarette use (from a mean
of 21.9 cigarettes/day at baseline to a mean of 2/day at 1-year
- Had respiratory infections and COPD exacerbations that were
markedly attenuated, and their respiratory physiology was not
worsened by EC use
- Showed consistently improved overall health status and physical
- Relapsed to conventional cigarette smoking at a low rate
Importantly, COPD patients who used EC but continued to smoke
conventional cigarettes (dual users), attenuated daily smoking of
conventional cigarettes by at least 75%. Dual-user COPD patients
showed a consequent amelioration in their respiratory parameters
and quality of life.
"While the sample size in the study was relatively small, the
results may provide preliminary evidence that long-term use of ECs
is unlikely to result in substantial health concerns in COPD
patients", said the authors. "Quitting smoking is a key strategy
not only to prevent the onset of COPD but also to stop its
progression to more severe disease stages. Given that many COPD
patients continue smoking despite their symptoms, the electronic
cigarette could be an effective and safe alternative to the tobacco
cigarettes also in this vulnerable population. Over an observation
period of 3 years, only two patients (8.3%) relapsed to cigarette
smoking, and both patients were dual users," added Polosa. This is
an important consideration, given that smokers with COPD are known
to perform poorly in smoking-cessation programs because of their
high relapse rate. Dr. Caponetto, a co-researcher, suggested that
the low rate of relapse of COPD smokers who switched to EC in this
study is due to "the fact that ECs reproduce the smoking experience
and accompanying rituals with large compensatory effect at both
physical and behavioural levels."
In terms of health amelioration, co-researcher Dr. Caruso said,
"the finding that COPD exacerbations were halved in patients who
stopped or considerably reduced their smoking habit following
switching to ECs was an important finding that confirms the
potential for harm reversal of these products".
The work undertaken by Polosa and colleagues contributes to the
growing literature in this field, acknowledging that EC are much
less harmful than combustible tobacco products. This is a very
important health issue.
Notes to Editors: Authors' Biographies:
Riccardo Polosa, MD, PhD,
is full Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Catania
(Italy), and Director of the
Center of Excellence for the acceleration of Harm Reduction within
the same University. He is convener for the European Working Group
on "Requirements and test methods for emissions of electronic
cigarettes," within the European Committee for Standardization
(CEN/TC 437). Dr. Polosa is also Coordinator of the "Scientific
Committee on electronic cigarettes research" promoted by the
Italian Antismoking League (LIAF).
Jaymin Bhagwanji Morjaria,
MD, is a consultant in respiratory medicine at the Royal Brompton
& Harefield Hospital NHS Trust, UK.
Umberto Prosperini, MD, is
a chest surgeon at the San Vincenzo Hospital, Taormina,
Cristina Russo, MD,
PhD, is a physician in general medicine at "Garibaldi"
Hospital, Catania, Italy; and
part-time researcher at the Centre for Tobacco Prevention and
Cessation (CPCT) of the University of Catania,
Alfio Pennisi, MD, is a
pulmonologist in Casa di Cura
Musumeci-Gecas (a private nursing home), Gravina di Catania, Italy.
Rosario Puleo, MD, is a
surgeon at the Teaching Hospital of the University of Catania,
Massimo Caruso, PhD, is a
biologist and researcher in immunology and respiratory diseases at
the University of Catania, Italy.
PhD, is a behavioural psychologist and tobacco harm reduction
researcher at the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation
(CPCT) of the University of Catania, Italy. He is a member of LIAF Scientific
Committee on electronic cigarette research.