Juul, an e-cigarette launch of Silicon Valley with a reputation for marketing its dessert-flavored nicotine products to teenagers, is now conducting health research.
On Saturday, the company, which is now shared by the Marlboro manufacturer Altria, presented a poster summary of a clinical trial that compared people who used their devices exclusively to people who smoked traditional cigarettes at an annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.
The study, sponsored by Juul and looking at people who used the devices in isolation for five days (instead of users switching back and forth between traditional cigarettes and e-cigs, as previous research suggests most), is the first clinical trial the company has shared with members of the public. The full study has not been published.
According to ClinicalTrials.gov, the government's database for such research, Juul recently conducted six clinical trials on its devices ̵
For his latest work, company researchers and those from an external lab, Celerion, looked at 90 adult smokers and analyzed nine biological traces called biomarkers that are believed to provide insight into disease or disease. In this case, they looked especially at carcinogenic biomarkers associated with tobacco-based cigarettes. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.
Following the joint scientific protocol, the researchers shared the participants in groups and some groups abstained from nicotine while others smoked normally and others used juicy e-cigs.
In both the withdrawal group and the Juul group, all measured biomarkers dropped dramatically, by 85.3% on average in the non-weapons and non-smoking groups and 85% in the Juul group. It is a positive sign and suggests that the use of Juul e-cigarettes in isolation is not related to any of the potentially carcinogenic effects of common tobacco cigarettes.
The study also has some important limitations.
Unanswered Questions About Weapons and Health
Most experts agree that compared to traditional smoking – which involves inhaling burnt tobacco – weapons are probably healthier. However, a growing research group suggests that the use of e-cigarettes comes with their own health risks.
Read more: The American surgeon general published only a rare advice on e-cigs like Juul – here's why vaping is dangerous
Juul's analysis did not look at the overall health effects of using e-cigarettes . Instead, it looked at a small set of biomarkers known to be adversely affected by tobacco use. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.
However, a press release summarizing Juul's paper noted that it "confirms the potential of vapor products as a viable alternative to flammable cigarettes."
This conclusion may be premature based on the study, which took place within five days and included 90 people. Most surveys comparing cigarettes and e-cigarettes are carried out over several years and include thousands of participants.
Previous biomarker research on e-cigarettes has suggested that the devices can be linked to negative health effects. However, few of these studies have included Juul devices.
Read more: Vaping instead of smoking still exposes you to toxic metals such as lead – here is so worried you should be
For example, a recent analysis of biomarkers in other cigger than Juul suggested that vapers inhale toxic substances such as lead, nickel, chromium and manganese at levels higher than what is considered safe in the EPA. Inhalation of these metals has been linked to health problems in the lungs, liver, immune system, heart and brain, as well as some cancers, according to the US Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Another concern experts have traveled with earlier e-cigarette research is when scientists exclude users switching between weapons and smoking, the group of people they say is constituting most e-cig users.
For the vaping part of Juul's study, the researchers only looked at people who were solely forged, not people who switched back and forth. It may mean ignoring the health implications of real weapons use, which may include arming and smoking rather than just weaponry.
The study also unaddressed the issue of juvenile arming, which recent studies from the Food and Drug Administration suggest was largely a result of Juul's skyrocketing popularity. A single Juul pod, the refillable cartridge in Juul e-cig, contains the same amount of addictive nicotine as a package of traditional cigarettes.
Several studies have suggested that teens using e-cigarettes eventually switch to regular cigarettes, and these may be young people who would not otherwise have smoked.