As vaping has grown in popularity, there’s long been an argument over whether it’s more dangerous for your health when compared to conventional smoking.
However, according to new research, it seems vaping may be worse for you than smoking regular cigarettes, despite the chargeable devices being promoted as a tool to help smokers quit their habit.
Scientists have warned this is due to the flavourings in e-cigarettes, which harm the lungs by triggering inflammation.
It’s thought even short-term use can cause as much or more damage as the real thing, said the Greek team of scientists, report the Mirror.
During their experiments on mice, they found the additives, including flavourings, caused lung inflammation similar or worse than that seen in traditional cigarette use.
Corresponding author, Dr Constaninos Glynos, from the University of Athens, said:
The observed detrimental effects in the lung upon e-cigarette vapour exposure in animal models highlight the need for further investigation of safety and toxicity of these rapidly expanding devices worldwide.
The vaping tools simulate smoking a traditional cigarette by releasing a vapour made up of liquid chemicals in a refillable cartridge, which typically contain propylene glycol, nicotine and most of the time, flavourings.
Propylene glycol is a colourless and odourless additive, and is found in numerous processed food and drinks. In a number of pharmaceuticals, it’s also used as a solvent.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular, show e-cigarettes, as well as the refills, aren’t well regulated. On top of this, the long-term effects they have on our health are unknown.
For their experiment, the researchers compared several groups of mice who received whole-body exposure to varying chemical combinations four times a day, with every session separated by 30-minute smoke-free intervals.
Dr Glynos continued:
Electronic cigarettes are advertised as a less harmful nicotine delivery system or as a new smoking cessation tool.
Our findings suggest that exposure to e-cig vapour can trigger inflammatory responses and adversely affect respiratory system mechanics.
In many cases, the added flavor in e-cigs exacerbated the detrimental effects of e-cig vapour. [sic]
One of the groups of mice received cigarette smoke and three others were subjected to e-cig vapours which contained either propylene glycol, both this and nicotine, or the two ingredients as well as a tobacco flavouring. The fifth and final batch received normal, healthy air and acted as a control.
Some animals in each party underwent the regime for three days and others four weeks. There was an increase in markers of inflammation, mucus production and altered lung function in all three e-cig groups – after only three days.
However, the mice who were getting propylene glycol alone showed fewer negative effects with long-term exposure (four weeks or more), which Dr Glynos, said suggests the additive elicits only a temporary irritation, eventually subsiding with continued use.
In addition, two inflammation-producing proteins became elevated in the flavouring group, meaning, according to Dr Glynos, some of the many flavouring components on the market may not be safe for even short-term use.
The state of the e-cig groups alarmed the researchers. The level of oxidative stress – damage at a cellular level – in those exposed to flavourings was equal to or higher than those of the cigarette group.
However, the respiratory mechanics were adversely affected only in the mice who were exposed to cigarette smoke, and not to e-cig vapour after prolonged treatment.
Dr Glynos added:
We conclude that both e-cig vaping and conventional cigarette smoking negatively impact lung biology.
Public Health England says e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer compared to traditional cigarettes. They also suggest smokers should consider switching in order to help them quit.
Yet critics are warning vaping has a number of dangers, including; lung disease, keeping people hooked on nicotine, or act as route in to smoking for impressionable children.
According to the Office for National statistics, it’s thought around 7.4million Brits smoke, while nearly three million use e-cigs.
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