Another day, another question about the safety of e-cigarettes. Touted by proponents as a way to help cigarette smokers transition away from traditional cigarettes, vaping has quickly become a topic of contention because of its popularity among nonsmokers, particularly children and teens. At the same time, research has begun to provide evidence that the chemicals in e-cigarettes may not be safe – and now, that the actual act of vaping may not be, either.
Published in Thorax, a research journal of the British Thoracic Society, findings from a new study suggest “vapor condensate” may damage alveolar macrophages, cells responsible for protecting the lungs in several ways. Among other responsibilities, alveolar macrophages help remove particles from the lungs and protect against lung infection. Essentially, they consume / remove dangerous particles and substances from the lungs before they can cause problems.
According to the study, macrophage cells exposed to fluid and vaporized e-cigarette liquid were less capable of fighting bacterial invasion in the lungs, and increased lung inflammation. In other words, they were unable to do their important immune-protecting job nearly as well.
As you might imagine, compromising alveolar macrophages’ ability to do their job could eventually compromise your ability to breathe properly – and that’s never a good thing. While the researchers note that this was a lab experiment, with cells exposed to e-cig liquid / vapor in a culture, rather than a direct experiment involving humans, it’s food for thought for anyone who thinks vaping is a safe alternative to smoking.
If you’re a current cigarette smoker, talk to your doctor about smart ways to quit. If you’ve picked up vaping, keep in mind that this study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting e-cigarettes may not be nearly as safe as they’re cracked up to be.