Top Medical Journal Deems Anti-Vaping Study Unreliable - Retracts It
In June 2019, an anti-vaping study linking vaping as a cause of myocardial infarction was published in the Journal of American Heart Association. This study has just been retracted because the study’s conclusion is now considered to be unreliable. This means the conclusions were incorrect.
The use of e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking and an effective method for quitting tobacco has been supported by numerous health bodies such as Public Health England and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
There is now plenty of evidence that vaping is healthier than smoking, and it is good that this unreliable study has now been quashed.
What Did The Original Study Claim?
The 2019 study was titled ‘Electronic Cigarette Use and Myocardial Infarction Among Adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health’.
The original study aimed to examine whether there was a link between the use of e-cigarettes and developing myocardial infarction (MI) and if there could be an explanation of the cross-sectional link between using e-cigarettes and MI through reverse causality.
The findings concluded that the use of e-cigarettes on some days or every day was linked with developing a myocardial infarction, adjusted for smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.
According to the study, the effects of using e-cigarettes was similar to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. Furthermore, the findings claimed that using e-cigarettes and smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes at the same time brought more risk to users than using either method alone.
In February 2020, the editors of the Journal of American Heart Association initiated a retraction of the original study and findings. This resulted after reviewing the peer review process upon becoming aware that the study did not fully account for some of the information provided in one of its surveys.
During the process of the peer review, reviewers came to the realisation that it was not clear whether the myocardial infarctions developed pre or post e-cigarette use for respondents. As a result, they called for the authors of the study to incorporate additional data that identified age of first MI and age of first e-cigarette use to address this flaw. The authors were able to provide some extra analysis but there was no confirmation from the reviewers and editors that the authors had firstly understood and thereafter complied with the request before signing off the final study for publication.
After the study was published, the editors asked for the authors to perform further analysis based upon when e-cigarette use by respondents started. This meant ongoing access to a restricted use data set was required and the authors agreed to meet the editors’ request. However, the authors were unable to meet the deadline set by the editors for a revised analysis.
As a result of the above, the editors retracted the full study from the Journal of the American Heart Association due to findings that can only be deemed as unreliable.
The Far-reaching Consequences of False Studies
Studies such as this have led numerous governments across the world to take a hard line stance against the use of vaping products. New policies were introduced and different restrictive measures were implemented to limit the growth of the industry. Because of this, many manufacturers and retailers went out of business and countless people who used vaping as a way to quit tobacco or as a healthier alternative to smoking also lost out.
Is Vaping an Effective Smoking Cessation Method?
A lot of people are already reported to have successfully quit smoking tobacco cigarettes, thanks to the help of e-cigarettes. As such cases continue to rise, there is more and more evidence available to back up the claim that vaping can be an effective method for smoking cessation.
Vaping can help ex-smokers to better manage their nicotine cravings since vape e-liquids can come in different nicotine concentrations. This means that ex-smokers can slowly wean themselves off highly addictive nicotine over time. This, in conjunction with only using e-cigarettes as much as they are needed, can help smokers overcome their habit.
A major study of close to 900 long-term smokers who were looking to quit was conducted in the UK. The study aimed to investigate whether vaping and nicotine replacement therapy has a similar level of effectiveness when it came to helping smokers quit cigarettes.
The study found that transitioning from smoking to vaping is twice as effective as using nicotine skin patches or chewing gum containing nicotine to help quit smoking. The findings concluded that vaping was overall one of the best smoking cessation methods, especially with the incorporation of face-to-face support. Additionally, the full benefits of vaping will only be achieved if smoking tobacco cigarettes ceases completely.
Are There Dangers Associated to Using Nicotine in E-Cigarettes?
There is a common belief that the nicotine used in e-cigarettes can lead to a number of smoking-related conditions but this is not based on any factual evidence.
None of the three main causes of death as a result of smoking, namely cardiovascular disease, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer can be directly linked to nicotine use. In fact, cardiovascular disease is caused by the damage tobacco smoke does to blood vessel walls. COPD is brought about by smoke-induced irritation and lung cancer is the result of the 7,000 toxic chemicals that are caused by combustion when smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Traditional cigarettes also contain up to 450 times more carcinogens than e-cigarettes. As such, the number of deaths linked to smokeless tobacco and vape devices is significantly lower than with smokers of tobacco cigarettes.
The nicotine contained in vape juice, nicotine replacement therapies as well as tobacco cigarettes is commonly consumed by many people on a daily basis, even though it is classed as a toxic substance. Even with the high number of daily consumers, there are very few cases of nicotine-related poisoning.
Findings from a CDC (the Center for Disease Control) study concluded that a link between vaping devices that adhere to legal trading standards and lung disease is very improbable. Such cases could have been the result of vitamin E acetate previously but this is now heavily restricted in regulated e-liquids.
There have also been murmurs of potential nicotine overdoses as a result of e-cigarette use. In fact, nicotine has a 2-hour half life, which is fairly short. This basically means that it only takes 2 hours for half the nicotine you would have consumed to leave your body. In addition to this, vaping allows users to administer their nicotine intake. As a result, it is much easier to control consumption and keeps any risk of taking too much nicotine to a minimum.
Are There Any Health-Related Vaping Benefits?
On top of some of the benefits already discussed, vaping has been shown to deliver a range of health-related benefits in comparison to traditional smoking.
With studies such as the one retracted from the Journal of American Heart Association putting vaping under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, the public has been paying close attention to how vaping impacts health.
Government bodies around the world have invested more resources into better understanding this topic. A systematic review of e-cigarettes and alternatives to traditional cigarettes showed that vapes devices have the capability to not only save many lives but also significantly diminish the damage that can be caused by smoking-related diseases.
Public Health England, a highly respected organization in health and social care has found vaping to be 95% safer than smoking. This is based on a study that was conducted by reputable scientists and led to a major shift in the way vaping is viewed in the scientific community and some governments. The UK is a great example with the National Health Service (NHS) actively promoting e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking.
In addition to this, vaping has been found to assist ex-smokers who have asthma to lessen or completely cease the use of traditional cigarettes. This has ultimately helped to bring their asthma-related symptoms under control. Furthermore, by replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes, it could result in 6.6 million fewer deaths over a 10-year time period, according to the Annual Review of Public Health.
No Rise In the Uptake Of Youth Vaping In the UK
There are many concerns about the rise of vaping among teenagers. This has led to the ban of many e-liquid flavours around the world due to the fear that they encourage underage vaping, especially among teens who may never have smoked cigarettes before. Such measures have purely been aimed at protecting young people. A major study in the UK found there to be no evidence of an increase in vaping among the youth.
According to the Smokefree Youth Survey 2019 conducted by YouGov, 76.9% of 11-18 year olds neither knew what vaping was nor had they ever tried it before. Between 2018 and 2019, there was also a marginal decline (from 16% down to 15.4%) in the number of 11-18 year olds who had vaped.
The study also confirmed the widely emphasized messaging that vaping is intended for smokers who are looking for an effective method of helping them to quit. These findings show that the vaping taking place among young people is mostly confined to ex-smokers and current smokers. Only 0.5% of young people who had never smoked before now vape, compared to 12.2% use in ex-youth smokers and 40.3% use among current youth smokers.
Board member of the UK Vaping Association, John Dunne explained how the research was important to demonstrating all the steps being taken within the vaping industry to deter the youth from unnecessarily picking up the habit. He reaffirmed the UKVI’s unwavering commitment to online age verification, a challenge 25 policy in-retail outlets, and making sure that all products are clearly identifiable as being for adult smokers, vapers, and other users of nicotine-based products.
In addition to this, the study also debunked the sentiment that vaping is a gateway to smoking due to the fact that smoking and exposure to the harmful elements of tobacco cigarettes are on a continuous decline.
Vaping Is Here To Stay
Vaping as an effective smoking cessation method and healthier alternative is here to stay. While there is still a lot more to learn about the practice and its effects on users, the vast research that has already been conducted shows positive signs for the future of the industry.
There is still a lot of misinformation about e-cigarette use in circulation but with some anti-vaping studies, such as the one from the Journal of American Heart Association now being retracted, it will open the door for more of the true facts to come to the fore.