Vaping is more harmful than first thought, study finds

A study found that vaping may cause effects similar to those seen in cigarette smokers

The e-cigarette vapour boosts the production of inflammatory chemicals and disables key protective cells in the lung that keep the air spaces clear of potentially harmful particles, revealed the study published online in the journal Thorax.

Vapor contained in e-cigarettes can damage the alveolar macrophages, which are responsible for engulfing and removing dust particles, bacteria, and allergens that can enter the respiratory tract. Some effects were similar to those in cigarette smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Professor David Thickett, lead author from the University of Birmingham, said: "In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens".

He added, "I don't believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes, but we should have a cautious skepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe".

Results showed that the condensate was significantly more harmful to the cells than e-cigarette fluid and that these effects worsened as the "dose" increased.

Researchers mimicked vaping in the laboratory, testing the effect of e-cigarette vapour condensate on alveolar macrophages extracted from the lung tissue samples of eight non-smokers.

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Earlier this year, an independent review concluded that e-cigarettes should be available on prescription due to the fact that there is "overwhelming evidence" that they are better for you than smoking. Britain's public health authorities are pushing smokers to switch to it as a safer choice; experts in the USA have warned that electronic cigarettes increase the risk of nicotine addiction among young people, while the World Health Organization has said uneasily that warming up electronic cigarettes can lead to the formation of toxic substances.

Cells exposed to vapourized liquid also were not as good at battling bacteria, suggesting that e-cigarette users' lungs might have more trouble fighting off infections.

While vaping has regularly been touted as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking, emerging research is starting to paint a different picture.

E-cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon and thus not much has been known about them and the harm they can cause.

Prof Thickett said while e-cigarettes were safer than traditional cigarettes, they may still be harmful in the long-term as research was in its infancy. It believed that e-cigarettes can help one overcome the habit of smoking and should be allowed on prescription.

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