ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The University of Rochester Medical Center says two of their new studies show a correlation between vaping and mental fog in kids and adults. That mental fog consists of difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
The studies also showed that children who first vaped between the ages 8 and 13 years old were more likely to report mental fog than those who started vaping later.
The release says that there have been previous studies on the link between vaping and the mental impairment of animals, but the URMC studies are the first to draw a connection in humans. URMC mined data from two major national surveys.
Those studies analyzed 18,000 middle and high school student responses to the National Youth Tobacco Survey and nearly 900,000 responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System phone survey from U.S. adults. The surveys included questions about smoking and vaping as well as memory, attention and mental function issues.
“With the recent rise in teen vaping, this is very concerning and suggests that we need to intervene even earlier,” said leader of the studies Dongmei Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at URMC. “Prevention programs that start in middle or high school might actually be too late.”
Although the studies show a correlation between vaping and mental function, it’s still unclear which causes which.
URMC says it’s possible that nicotine exposure causes difficulty with mental function, but it is also possible that people who report mental fog may be more likely to smoke or vape to self-medicate. Li says further studies of adults and children who vape over time are needed in order to parse the cause and effect of vaping and mental fog.
In addition to Li, authors of the youth study include Catherine Xie, and Zidian Xie, Ph.D. For the adult study, Li was joined by co-authors Zidian Xie, Ph.D., Deborah J. Ossip, Ph.D. Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., and Richard J. O’Connor, Ph.D.
The studies were funded by the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products.