Vaping may damage immune system and lead to lung disease, study suggests

Phillip Cunningham
August 17, 2018

"They are safer in terms of cancer risk, but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD, then that's something we need to know about", Dr. Thickett added. It is a popular belief as is purported by the e-cigarette makers that they are safer than traditional cigarettes.

A third of the cells were exposed to plain e-cigarette fluid, a third to different strengths of the artificially vaped condensate with and without nicotine, and a third to nothing for 24 hours.

An experimental study led by Professor David Thickett at the University of Birmingham looked at the effects of vaping on the lung tissue of a group of non-smokers using a mechanical device to mimic the vapor of e-cigarettes.

What's more, the ability of cells exposed to vaped condensate to engulf bacteria was substantially impaired, although treatment with an antioxidant restored this function and helped lessen some of the other harmful effects.

However, Public Health England advises they are much less harmful than smoking and people should not hesitate to use them as an aid to giving up cigarettes.

They concluded: "We suggest continued caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe".

With vaping becoming a style statement globally including in India, a small yet significant study has found that vaporisers may potentially disable key immune cells in the lung and boosts inflammation if used for long.

Credit PA
Credit PA

According to research conducted by the University of Birmingham, e-cigs can harm cells in the lungs in a way similar to the damage done by cigarettes. The cell death also rose by fifty fold when exposed to the vapours.

However the US Surgeon General has warned that e-cigarettes leave young people at risk of nicotine addiction, brain development problems and mood disorders, while the World Health Organisation has said it is concerned that heating e-fluid can lead to the 'formation of toxicants'.

The report was published online August 13 in the journal Thorax.

Britton said: "This indicates that long-term use of electronic cigarettes is likely to have adverse effects, as is widely recognised by leading health authorities in the United Kingdom including the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England".

They set up a machine that replicated the effect of vaping and studied what happened to the samples of tissue.

"In terms of cancer-causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens", Professor Thickett said.


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