A new study has again illustrated the dangers of using e-cigarettes.
The study was published in the European Respiratory Journal, and found that e-cigarette vapor may increase the risk of pneumonia infections. This is in addition to the other dangers found in previous studies, including risks associated with the other chemicals in vaping solutions.
Study Finds E-Cigarette Vapor Allows Bacteria to “Stick” to Airways
Studies have already shown that smoking regular tobacco cigarettes increases the risk for pneumonia and for lung infections. The question was, can e-cigarettes pose the same risks? E-Cigarettes are advertised as being “safer” than traditional cigarettes, after all. Researchers wanted to see if that was the case when considering pneumonia risk.
Pneumococcal bacteria can exist in the airways without causing infection—something has to trigger their growth. Traditional cigarette smoke helps the bacteria stick to cells lining the airway, increasing the risk for infection. Past studies have shown that the bacteria use a molecule called “PAFR” to help them stick, increasing their ability to cause disease.
In one of their experiments, the researchers examined the effects of e-cigarette vapor on PAFR and found that cells exposed to the vapor produced three times more PAFR than those not exposed. Then researchers introduced pneumococcal bacteria and found that the vapor doubled the amount of bacteria that stuck to airway cells.
Researchers Find E-Cigarette Vapor Increases Pneumonia Infection Risk in Humans
Next, the researchers tested the vapor on mice. They found that mice that inhaled the vapor also showed increased levels of PAFR in their airways and increased the proliferation of pneumococcal bacteria in the respiratory tract.
In their last experiment, the researchers performed similar examinations on people. First, they measured their PAFR levels, then asked the vapers to take at least 10 puffs on their e-cigarettes. After one hour of vaping, PAFR levels increased three-fold.
Lead researcher Jonathan Grigg, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, stated: “Together, these results suggest that vaping makes the airways more vulnerable to bacteria sticking to airway lining cells. If this occurs when a vaper gets exposed to pneumococcal bacterium, this could increase risk of infection.”
He added that the study’s results “add to growing evidence that inhaling vapor has the potential to cause adverse health effects…” while other quitting aids like patches and gum do not cause the same risks.
Other Studies Find Dangerous Risks Associated with E-Cigarettes
This is one of many studies indicating that e-cigarettes are not “safe.” In a 2016 study, researchers found that the particles in the vapor could be toxic to cells in the mouth, creating a potential risk for oral disease or even oral cancer.
Other studies have identified potentially dangerous chemicals in the nicotine solutions used in e-cigarettes, including formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), which was found in one study at levels up to 15 times higher than in regular cigarettes.
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