With a letter sent to the editor of the prestigious The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, CoEHAR researchers want to clarify the results of a pilot study that used tomography to compare lung inflammation between smokers and non-smokers. According to the research team from Catania, led by prof. Riccardo Polosa, the analysis of the images does not prove any causality between the use of electronic cigarettes and related lung damage.
A recently published study by a team of American researchers compared the scans of the lungs of 5 electronic cigarette users, 5 tobacco cigarette smokers and 5 subjects who never smoked or vaped. Data suggested preliminary evidence that e-cig users had greater pulmonary inflammation than cigarette smokers and never smoke/vape controls, implying even a greater damage to health.
According to Prof. Polosa: “The study does not present any causality between data and the hypothesis according to which there would be health complications for vapers”. In fact, as the scientist explains: “The very small sample size and low reproducibility of the tests does not allow us to give a precise and scientific answer on pulmonary inflammation caused by vaping because it does not take into consideration fundamental factors, such as the prior exposure to tobacco smoking”.
As it is impossible to decouple the health impact of ecig aerosol emissions from prior tobacco smoke exposure, only long-term follow-up of exclusive vapers who have never smoked in their life would have been a better suited study design to verify potential harm caused by electronic cigarettes use.
As commented by Prof. Stefano Palmucci, professor of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiotherapy at the University of Catania: “It would be desirable to conduct long-term studies with exclusive vaping individuals, not previously exposed to conventional cigarettes smoke, in order to verify the harm from EC. Furthermore, a larger number of subjects should be recruited, to obtain more consistent data”.
The letter published today brings to the media attention the need to develop and adopt shared scientific research standards and a greater control of publication processes: “We often opposes poor quality designed scientific results that are published in prestigious journals without proper scrutiny: researches that only feed an unfounded anti-vape rhetoric based on preconceptions that try to dissuade smokers from making choices that are less harmful to their health“, prof. Polosa concludes.