E-Cig Vaping May Increase Risk of Lung Damage: Study

While many believe that e-cigs, or electronic cigarettes, are safer than than smoking tobacco cigarettes, new research suggests that “vaping” from the devices may cause similar lung damage, increasing concerns about the increasing popularity of e-cigs among teens and young devices.

In a study released this month by the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, researchers indicate that e-cigarette solution and vapors, even those that are nicotine-free, may cause serious damage to the lungs.

It has been largely unknown what component of cigarette smoke leads to the breakdown of lung cells. The new study may help shed light on the deterioration of the lungs caused by the chemicals in cigarette smoke.

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During the study researchers exposed mice, mouse cells and human cells to cigarette smoke, e-cigarettes solution containing nicotine or e-cigarette solution that was nicotine-free.

The nicotine exposures triggered a dose-dependent loss of the endothelial cells, which make up the lining of the lungs. It also greatly increased lung inflammation and oxidative stress in mice. The effects were seen from both cigarette smoke and e-cigarette solution and vapor containing nicotine.

Nicotine exposure at concentrations needed to cause endothelial cell loss did not trigger cell necrosis, cell death, but it did prevent cell reproduction.

The findings point to nicotine as directly causing lung inflammation, leading to lung damage. This indicates that tobacco cigarettes are not the only worry, e-cigarettes may also cause lung damage.

Findings Question Using E-Cigs To Quit

The findings follow research published last year, which revealed tobacco cigarette smokers are increasingly relying on e-cigarettes to quit the cigarette habit.

The devices are often promoted as a way for smokers to quit a health harming and addictive habit; however the method they turn to may be as equally addictive and harmful to their health.

E-cigarette solution that did not contain nicotine may also play a role in damaging lung health, according to the study. Researchers indicate that the solution and vapor that was nicotine free also effected the lungs. Specifically, the chemicals in the solution harmed lung cells, including acrolein.

These chemicals damage the lungs by attacking the molecules that hold the endothelial cells together, causing lung inflammation, which can eventually lead to lung damage. Acrolein is present in both e-cigarette solution and vapor and in any form can be damaging to the lungs.

Other chemicals found in e-cigarette solution and vapor include propylene glycol and glycerol. All these chemicals may pose a threat to lung health.

A Japanese study published last year raised concerns about the health risks of the chemicals found in e-cigarettes after researchers found many of the same carcinogenic chemicals in traditional cigarettes are also found in the vapor of e-cigarettes. Some of the cancer causing chemicals include, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.

“This research reports that components found in commercially available e-cigarette solutions and vapors generated by heating them may cause lung inflammation,” said lead researcher Irina Petrache, PhD. “These results caution that e-cigarette inhalation may be associated with adverse effects on lung health.”

Researchers say more research is needed to further reveal the effect e-cigarettes may have on the health, as the research currently available only focused on short term use and has not looked at long term use or long term effects.

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