E-Cigarettes May Damage Lungs even without Nicotine

E-Cigarettes May Damage Lungs even without Nicotine

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 - 06:15
A new study suggests that e-cigarette liquids sweetened with flavorings may harm the lungs. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
A new US study suggests that e-cigarette liquids sweetened with flavorings like vanilla and cinnamon may harm the lungs even when they don’t contain nicotine.

Researchers examined what happened to monocytes, a type of white blood cell, upon exposure to flavoring chemicals used in popular e-cigarette liquids, Reuters reported.

None of the liquids contained nicotine, but the flavoring chemicals still appeared to increase biomarkers for inflammation and tissue damage, and many of them also caused cells to die.

Senior study author Irfan Rahman, an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said that over time, this type of cell damage can lead to a wide range of lung problems, including fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and asthma.

Rahman explained that nicotine-free e-liquids have generally been considered safe, however, the impact of flavoring chemicals, especially on immune cells, has not been widely researched.

This study shows that even though flavoring compounds are considered safe for ingestion, it is not safe for inhalation, he added.

Big US tobacco companies are all developing e-cigarettes. The battery-powered gadgets feature a glowing tip and a heating element that turns liquid nicotine and flavorings into a cloud of vapor that users inhale.

Exposing cells to mixtures containing a variety of flavors appeared to cause a worse reaction than using a single flavor, the study found.

Among the single flavors, cinnamon and vanilla appeared the most toxic to the lung cells.

In a report published in the Frontiers in Physiology journal, researchers concluded that more research is needed to better understand what happens to lung cells when people smoke e-cigarettes, and the e-liquids should be regulated and clearly labeled to list the mix of flavors used.

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