A newspaper named Discover Newz published an article saying “Confirmed: E-cigarettes Cause a Horrible Incurable Disease Called ‘Popcorn Lung.’ Worse Than Lung Cancer!” The viral article consists a December 2015 study conducted by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health. Joseph G. Allen, an assistant professor in the environmental health department, has led the study by looking at whether or not flavored e-cigarette vapors contained the chemicals diacetyl, acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health researchers had found in two major researches that rats exposed popcorn flavorings and diacetyl show severe injury to their lung airway tissue. The research also showed that exposer to pure diacetyl vapors causes similar effect as popcorn flavoring chemicals.
The NIOSH researchers also make a point to mention that “because flavorings are complex mixtures of many chemicals, most of which have not been evaluated with respect to inhalation toxicity, focusing solely on diacetyl air concentrations may not be adequate to assess risk in different plants using a variety of different flavorings.” Which means that diacetyl is not the only chemical that can causes respiratory issues.
Another research conducted by Harvard researchers shows that e-cigarette users may be exposed to other various toxic chemicals that may pose a risk to lung health when inhaled. Researcher Priscilla Callahan-Lyon and Michael S. Orr who are FDA researchers at the Center for Tobacco Products showed in their individual research that e-cigarette users may be exposed to less toxins than conventional cigarette users, but there are limited data to make a definitive conclusion.
Another research published in March 2016 in the journal PLOS One also showed that high school students in South Korea smoking e-cigarettes are more likely to diagnose with asthma. On top of that NIDA also said that “at this point it is unclear whether e-cigarettes may be effective as smoking-cessation aids and there is also the possibility that they could perpetuate the nicotine addiction and thus interfere with quitting.”
With all the research that we have at this point it is still not possible for us to say whether e-cigarettes definitely cause popcorn lung or helps quitting smoking. However, it is possible to say that e-cigarettes are not harmless especially to children and teens.