Friday, October 27, 2017

E-cigarettes (Vaping) May Contribute to Inflammatory Lung Disease

In September 2016, I wrote a blog post titled "Cigarettes and E-Cigarettes: Inhaling The Dangerous Facts." This week I read that a new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that e-cigarette use can trigger immune responses in the lung that can contribute to inflammatory lung disease. The research was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Globally, e-cigarette use is soaring -- especially with young people. In 2016 the US Surgeon General identified a 900 percent increase in e-cigarette use in high school students from 2011 to 2015. While e-cigarette vapor doesn't contain the same kinds of carcinogenic compounds as regular cigarette smoke, there is a growing body of research to suggest "vaping" may have its own set of harmful effects.

The study examined 44 sputum samples from e-cigarette users, current cigarette smokers, and non-smokers. Amongst e-cigarette users, a significant increase in neutrophil granulocyte- and neutrophil-extracellular-trap (NET)-related proteins was identified. The study notes that while neutrophils are useful in combating pathogens they also are known to contribute to lung diseases such as COPD and cystic fibrosis. The study also identified similar increases in specific biomarkers associated with lung disease between e-cigarette and cigarette users. An increase in mucin 5AC, a mucus secretion associated with chronic bronchitis and asthma, was also found in both e-cigarette and cigarette users.

Dr. Mehmet Kesimer, senior author of the study, has said: "Comparing the harm of e-cigarettes with cigarettes is a little like comparing apples to oranges. Our data shows that e-cigarettes have a signature of harm in the lung that is both similar and unique, which challenges the concept that switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes is a healthier alternative."

It's becoming more clear that there are adverse effects of e-cigarettes. While they most likely don't cause the same kind of harm as cigarettes, it may indeed be a misnomer to believe that they are a "healthy" alternative. The only truly healthy alternative to cigarette smoking is to simply not smoke at all.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso