Your E-Cigarette Might Be Killing You, Study Says Flavoring Liquids In E-Cigarettes Could Cause Lung Damage

Lindsay FoxPixabay

E-cigarettes have long been hailed as a safer, sensible alternative to traditional cigarettes. Two recent studies have, however, raised questions around this widely accepted claim of e-cigarettes being much safer compared to their traditional brethren. A few days ago, a study claimed that the increased use of e-cigarettes could cause cell mutations and possibly increase the risk of cancer. The second study, the details of which was only recently made public, claims that the flavoring liquids used in e-cigarettes can lead to liver disease. According to Reuters, the study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in upstate New York.

According to the study, the liquids used in e-cigarettes – particularly the ones with sweetened flavorings like vanilla and cinnamon – could cause lung damage over long-term abuse. The study adds that the lungs could be affected even if the inhaled gas does not contain nicotine. Researchers examined the effect of these flavoring compounds on monocytes, a type of white blood cell to deduce that the long-term usage of e-cigarettes could lead to possible lung damage. According to the researchers, even without the presence of nicotine, these compounds caused inflammation and tissue damage to the cells inside the lungs. In extreme cases, these compounds also caused many of these lung cells to die.

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While the adverse effects of abuse of these compounds may not be immediate, researchers estimate that over time, this could lead to conditions including — but not limited to fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and asthma. Confirming the findings, Irfan Rahman, senior study author and an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center went on to explain why e-cigarettes were usually thought to be a safer alternative to cigarettes. According to Rahman, while nicotine-free liquids used in e-cigarettes were deemed safe, there was little data about the flavoring chemicals used in the liquid. The new study indicates explains how these flavoring compounds that were marked being safe for ingestion — were also deemed safe when inhaled.

Rahman adds the following.

“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.”

During the course of the study, researchers noted that the lung cells showed a more adverse reaction when they were exposed to a liquid that contained multiple flavors – compared to what was observed when a single flavor was used. Interestingly, cinnamon and vanilla flavors were observed to be the most toxic to the lung cells.

While these reports might sound alarming especially for someone who had long considered vaping to be a safe alternative, it is pertinent to note that the research did not actually involve subjects who were vaping. These tests were instead conducted directly on lung cells in a controlled environment. Also, the true effects of long-term usage of e-cigarettes are yet to be ascertained.