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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is funding a new vaping study at the University of Louisville (KY) to determine the long-term effects of e-cigarette use on health.

Dr. Dan Conklin, Professor of Medicine in the University of Louisville’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine , and the leader of the research team, said, “Our research is to better understand the cardiovascular disease risks using new and emerging tobacco products” as well as assisting the FDA in its regulation of e-cigarette products. The long-term study will take decades to complete, “We’ll need to follow e-cig users for the next 50 years,” Conklin said.

Dr. Conklin told ABC News, “As we all know, electronic cigarettes got on the market prior to being regulated”. Most researchers, including Dr. Conklin, agree that e-cigarettes are probably safer than combustible cigarettes due to the fact that they have fewer carcinogens, which reduces the risk of cancer. And the FDA itself is working to fast-track approval for e-cigarettes as a Nicotine Replacement Therapy more effective than the nicotine patch or gum — to help smokers quit. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that e-cigarettes were nearly twice as likely to help smokers quit than other popular nicotine replacement products, including patches, gum, and lozenges.

While human trials are underway, researchers conducting the new vaping study are also looking at the effects of e-cigarettes on animals. Dr. Conklin presented some early research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting.

“Currently, we do not know whether e-cigarettes are harmful,” Conklin said. “They do not generate smoke as do conventional cigarettes but they do generate an aerosol – the vapor – that alters indoor air quality and contains toxic aldehydes.” Conklin’s team is investigating the direct effects of e-cigarettes on cardiovascular disease in the laboratory.

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