A study suggests a possible link between vaping and COVID-19, suggesting teens and young adults in the United States who inhale could be five to seven times more at risk of contracting the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Results were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health based on survey data collected in May and analyzed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
"Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn't true among those who vape," study leader Shivani Mathur Gaiha said in a press statement.
The study asked participants if they had ever vaped before, whether they had vaped or smoked in the last 30 days, if they had COVID-19 symptoms, were tested for it or contracted the disease.
The results showed that those who had used cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the last 30 days were nearly five times more likely to have COVID-19 symptoms compared to participants who had never smoked or vaped.
The study does not prove vaping causes COVID-19. One possible explanation put forward by the researchers is that vaping requires repeated touching of the mouth and face, which would help spread the infection. Additionally, they say nicotine in e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes can cause lung damage, which makes contracting COVID-19 more dangerous.
The researchers at Stanford say they hope their findings "will prompt the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to further tighten regulations governing how vaping products are sold to young people."