This article is part of Pulmonology Advisor‘s coverage of the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference, taking place in San Diego, California. Our staff will report on medical research related to asthma and other respiratory conditions, conducted by experts in the field. Check back regularly for more news from ATS 2018.

SAN DIEGO — A study has shown an association between regular e-cigarette use and higher likelihood of having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This research was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, held May 18-23, 2018, in San Diego, California.


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Study researchers included 32,247 subjects from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, 1575 of whom used e-cigarettes daily or regularly. COPD prevalence was defined as a diagnosis of either chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or COPD. Possible confounders such as other tobacco product usage and secondhand smoke between e-cigarette users and nonusers were accounted for using propensity score matching. Researchers also adjusted for possible confounders in employing logistic regression to study the link between usage of e-cigarettes and COPD. Balanced repeated replication techniques and replicate weights were used to manage the complex design of the PATH study’s survey.

Of the e-cigarette users in the PATH study, COPD occurred in 4.45% (95% CI, 3.70-5.19). Accounting for matched propensities, there were 1321 e-cigarette users and 1321 nonusers. E-cigarette users were significantly more likely to have COPD (odds ratio, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.22-2.83).

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The study researchers concluded that “fairly regular use of e-cigs every day or some days is associated with an increased odds of having COPD in a large representative US adult cohort. This association exists even after adjusting for potential confounding factors. Due to the fact that the data is cross-sectional, it is unknown whether e-cigs could contribute to COPD development, or if people who have COPD are more likely to use e-cigs (possibly as a harm reduction method).”

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Reference

Perez MF, Atuegwu N, Mead E, Oncken C, Mortensen EM. E-cigarette use is associated with emphysema, chronic bronchitis and COPD. Presented at: American Thoracic Society 2018 International Conference; May 18-23, 2018; San Diego, CA. Poster 402.