top of page

E-cigarette use increases risk for asthma by 252%, study finds

A significant study has highlighted a strong association between electronic cigarette use and an earlier onset of asthma in U.S. adults
A significant study has highlighted a strong association between electronic cigarette use and an earlier onset of asthma in U.S. adults. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

UTHealth Houston researchers have published a significant study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, highlighting a strong association between electronic cigarette use and an earlier onset of asthma in U.S. adults. This groundbreaking research was led by Adriana Pérez, PhD, MS, a professor of biostatistics and data science at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health.

The study revealed that adults who had not previously been diagnosed with asthma but reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days faced a 252% increased risk of developing asthma at an earlier age.


Pérez, also affiliated with the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the School of Public Health, emphasized, “While previous studies have reported that e-cigarette use increases the risk of asthma, our study was the first to examine the age of asthma onset. Measuring the potential risk of earlier age of asthma onset as it relates to past 30-day e-cigarette use may help people from starting use or motivate them to stop.”

Researchers used data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, a national longitudinal study that tracks tobacco use and its health effects on adults and youths in the U.S. The secondary data analysis allowed the team to explore the potential health impacts of recent e-cigarette use on asthma development.


Implications for Public Health

“The findings of the study underscore the need for further research, particularly regarding the impact of e-cigarette use on youth and its association with early age of asthma onset and other respiratory conditions,” Pérez explained.

She also stressed the importance of updating screening guidelines to include recent e-cigarette use, which could lead to earlier detection and treatment of asthma, ultimately reducing the disease's morbidity and mortality.


Related Stories:


The study calls attention to the broader public health issue of asthma, a condition that leads to approximately $300 billion in annual losses due to missed school or workdays, mortality, and medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The researchers argue that tobacco regulations, prevention initiatives, and cessation programs are critical in mitigating the early onset of asthma linked to e-cigarette use.


Senior author Melissa B. Harrell, PhD, MPH, professor of epidemiology at UTHealth Houston, collaborated with Pérez and other co-authors, including Pushan P. Jani, MD, MSc, associate professor of pulmonology in the Department of Internal Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, and Sarah Valencia, MS, a statistician at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living.

The study team suggests that their findings highlight an urgent need for additional research into how e-cigarette use affects youth and contributes to early asthma onset. This future research could provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind this association and support the development of targeted interventions to reduce the prevalence and impact of asthma.


How does smoking affect your body?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, tobacco use harms every organ in your body. Smoking tobacco introduces not only nicotine but also more than 5,000 chemicals, including numerous carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals), into your lungs, blood and organs.

The damage caused by smoking can shorten your lifespan significantly. In fact, smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.

Pregnant women who smoke put their unborn babies at risk, too. Possible effects on pregnancy include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition when the embryo implants outside the uterus.

  • Miscarriages.

  • Stillbirths.

  • Birth defects, such as cleft palate.

  • Low birth weight.


What other conditions may be caused or worsened by tobacco?

In addition to its known cancer risks, the Cleveland Clinic states that smoking causes many other chronic (long-term) health problems that need ongoing care. Specific smoking-related problems that need treatment include:

  • Decreased HDL (good) cholesterol and increased blood pressure (increasing risks for heart attack and stroke).

  • Erectile dysfunction.

  • Lower oxygen to the heart and other tissues in the body (increasing risks for coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and diabetes).

  • More frequent routine illnesses like colds, especially in children living with smokers.

  • Poorer lung function (ability to get enough oxygen) leading to COPD, asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema.


By demonstrating a significant increase in risk for recent e-cigarette users, the study underscores the importance of public health measures aimed at reducing e-cigarette use and improving asthma management. As the landscape of tobacco use evolves, ongoing research and updated public health strategies will be essential in addressing the challenges posed by new forms of nicotine consumption.

For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.



Most Recent Stories

bottom of page