Fact Check: Do e-cigarettes cause incurable disease – Florida Times-Union

Times-Union readers want to know:

Is it true that scientists have proven that e-cigarettes cause an incurable respiratory disease called “popcorn lung”?

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, deliver vapor containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. They’re “often promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes,” writes the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

FactCheck.org reports that a reader forwarded an article from the website Discover Newz in April with the headline, “Confirmed: E-cigarettes Cause a Horrible Incurable Disease Called ‘Popcorn Lung.’ Worse Than Lung Cancer!” Other websites have published identical pieces and the article has been shared on Facebook tens of thousands of times.

While the article summarizes the findings of a legitimate scientific study, the headline is wrong. Researchers have not confirmed that e-cigarettes cause bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung.” But they do know that a chemical associated with the disease has been found in the vapor of some e-cigarettes.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is an incurable disease that scars the bronchioles, the smallest airways in the lung. That scarring limits the passage of air. If the disease becomes severe enough, the only treatment option might be a lung transplant, FactCheck.org reports.

There is still much unknown about the health risks of e-cigarettes; there isn’t even enough evidence to say definitively they’re effective at helping people to quit smoking.

E-cigarettes were first introduced into the U.S. market in 2007. With roughly $2.5 billion in projected sales in 2014, they could surpass the sales of conventional cigarettes by 2023, if the growth trend continues, according to Well Fargo Securities.

But the Wall Street Journal reported that e-cigarette sales declined in 2015, “bringing an end to five years of triple-digit growth.” The decline was likely due to “[c]ustomer dissatisfaction, inventory backlogs, state laws and safety issues,” the newspaper said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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