New Research Links Cannabis Vaping to Bronchitic Symptoms in Young Adults

According to the findings of a new study assessing the risk of respiratory symptoms associated with nicotine and cannabis vaping in young adults, cannabis vaping increases the odds of bronchitic symptoms and wheezing in this vulnerable population. “This study provides new evidence for an independent association between any level of cannabis vaping and persistent symptoms of bronchitis (daily cough, congestion, or phlegm, and/or a diagnosis of bronchitis in the past 12 months),” the researchers wrote. The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open on December 22. If you or someone you love has suffered severe respiratory symptoms that you believe to be associated with vaping or e-cigarette use, contact us as soon as possible to find out if you are eligible to file a vaping injury lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Vaping and Severe Respiratory Symptoms

Despite growing concerns about the risk of adverse health outcomes associated with vaping, the rates of e-cigarette (nicotine vaping) and cannabis vaping continue to rise among youth and young adults across the United States. Unfortunately, research into the potential risk of adverse respiratory side effects associated with nicotine and cannabis vaping has been limited. This new study sought to investigate the potential risk of bronchitic symptoms (daily cough, congestion, or phlegm other than with a cold, and/or bronchitis), wheezing and shortness of breath associated with nicotine and cannabis vaping among young adults. The study used data on self-reported lifetime, six-month and 30-day vaping from a cross-sectional study of 2,553 young adults who were recruited from high schools in Southern California between June 2018 and October 2019.

Of the 2,553 study participants, 42.9% reported vaping nicotine (using e-cigarettes) and 38.4% reported vaping cannabis. After adjusting for cannabis smoking, cigarette smoking, nicotine vaping and sociodemographic characteristics, the researchers found that the study participants who reported vaping cannabis in their lifetime but not in the past six months, vaping cannabis in the past six months but not in the last 30 days, vaping cannabis for one or two days in the past 30 days, and vaping cannabis for three or more days in the past 30 days were significantly more likely to experience chronic bronchitic symptoms, compared to those who had never vaped cannabis. The researchers also found that cannabis vaping three or more times in the past 30 days was associated with an increased risk of wheezing.

EVALI Outbreak Linked to THC-Containing Vaping Products

Concerns about the possibility of e-cigarette users experiencing severe respiratory problems surged last year, following a multistate outbreak of e-cigarette and vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), which was the name given by the CDC to the newly identified lung disease linked to vaping. The lung illness was first reported in April 2019, and in the months that followed, health officials across the country reported cases of severe and sometimes fatal lung infections that occurred suddenly in otherwise healthy individuals. The EVALI outbreak led to more than 2,700 hospitalizations in 27 states and the District of Columbia and as many as 60 patient deaths.

As more details about the lung illness began to emerge last year, healthcare providers and researchers were able to identify one common risk factor: 82% of patients hospitalized with EVALI reported having used THC-containing e-cigarette products. Experts attributed the lung injury outbreak to a lack of regulation and oversight for the manufacture of e-cigarette and cannabis vaping devices, many of which contain flavorings and additives that have the potential to harm respiratory health. According to the CDC, “Vitamin E acetate, an additive to THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, is strongly linked to the EVALI outbreak.”

Cannabis Vaping Increases Risk of Bronchitic Symptoms in Young Adults

Last year’s devastating EVALI outbreak proved that the health outcomes associated with vaping are not well understood and underscored the need for more information about the health risks associated with the use of vaping and e-cigarette products. “Findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that cannabis vaping is associated with increased risk of bronchitic symptoms and wheeze in young adults,” the researchers involved in this new study concluded. They went on to say that “[f]urther research is needed to understand the temporality of the association and the mechanisms underlying the difference between nicotine and cannabis vaping in the risk of bronchitic symptoms and wheeze.”

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