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Amid rising concerns about the side effects of vaping, the findings of a new study suggest that use of flavored cigarettes may make asthma and other respiratory diseases worse.
In findings published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers indicate that e-cigarette flavors have a significant impact on respiratory function, compared to unflavored e-cigarettes. The research suggests some flavors impact lung function in different ways.
Researchers from Australia used an asthma model to test the impact of vaping on lung function. They exposed mice to different flavors of e-cigarettes, including black licorice, cola, banana pudding, and “cinnacide.” They also exposed some to room air as a control. Exposure occurred 30 minutes twice a day, six days a week across 18 days.
Some e-cigarettes did not contain nicotine, while others contained 12 mg/mL of nicotine. The mice were assessed at 72 hours after the final exposure.
Flavored e-cigarettes, even those without nicotine, changed how the lungs functioned and were affected by asthma or allergic reactions.
Not all flavors tested in the new study had the same side effects. Black licorice caused exaggerated airway inflammation and banana pudding increased the level of tissue scarring in the lungs. The “cinnacide” flavor suppressed airway inflammation, but increased airway sensitivity.
Products containing nicotine reduced airway inflammation. Researchers said this is in line with past research that has shown nicotine has an anti-inflammatory effect.
“Flavored e-cigarettes without nicotine had significant but heterogeneous effects on features of allergic airways disease,” the researchers wrote. “This suggests that some flavored e-cigarettes may alter asthma pathophysiology even when used without nicotine.”
The findings echo other research which has shown vaping has effects on the body in other ways, including damaging blood vessels even after only one use and damaging a person’s DNA, potentially leading to cancer in the future.
E-cigarettes have become the most popular form of tobacco use among teens in the United States.
Recently, headlines have focused on hundreds of e-cigarette users who became ill after vaping, users experienced severe respiratory illness. More than 500 illnesses were reported resulting in nine deaths.
Researchers of the new study emphasized the need to examine the effects of e-cigarettes on respiratory illness and diseases, such as asthma, which are a serious concern for many Americans.