'Cautious scepticism' urged over e-cigarette safety

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

To get a more accurate representation of the effects of inhaling e-cigarettes, the Birmingham researchers came up with a way to create condensed vapour, which is closer to what lung cells encounter.

They found that electronic cigarette vapor favors inflammation and at the same time suppresses the action of macrophages in the immune system, which play a vital role in the body's cleansing of bacteria, dust particles, allergens, and so on. If you vape for 20 to 30 years and it can cause COPD then that's something we need to know about.

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".

I do not believe that electronic cigarettes are more harmful than normal, but we should have a cautious skepticism as to whether it is as safe as we think.

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E-cigarettes don't proceed tar or carbon monoxide; two of the main toxins in cigarette smoke, said the NHS.

To determine what effect vapourizing might have, Thickett and his colleagues extracted macrophages from lung tissue samples from eight non-smokers who had never had asthma or COPD.

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Some of the effects appear to be similar to effects seen in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

They caution the results are only in laboratory conditions and advise further research is needed to better understand the long-term health impact - the changes recorded took place only over 48 hours.

Previous studies have focused on the chemical make-up of e-cigarette liquid before it is vaped, the researchers said.

With or without nicotine, e-cigarette vapor increases inflammation and disables cells that protect lung tissue, human tissue tests reveal. This study, however, suggests that long-term vaping can lead to lung damage.

In an accompanying podcast, Professor Thickett said the tobacco giants, who have bought up numerous e-cigarette companies, have an agenda to portray e-cigarettes as safe.

The effects were worse when it contained nicotine.

Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, said this is a particularly poignant finding for those who plan on using e-cigarettes long term, rather than as a transitional stage to quit entirely. It believed that e-cigarettes can help one overcome the habit of smoking and should be allowed on prescription.

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