E-cigarettes have been touted as a safer alternative to smoking, but the vapor they create might harm lung tissue much like regular cigarettes do, British researchers report.
A study found that it may cause inflammation and impair the activity of alveolar macrophages, cells that remove potentially damaging dust particles, bacteria and allergens. "The study's lead author, Professor David Thickett, said, "[E-cigarettes] are safer in terms of cancer risk, but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], then that's something we need to know about".
As he said, "with regard to the carcinogenic molecules contained in regular cigarette smoke, electronic vapor certainly contains fewer carcinogens".
"Importantly, exposure of macrophages to [e-cigarette vapour condensate] induced numerous same cellular and functional changes in [alveolar macrophage] function seen in cigarette smokers and patients with COPD", they said. Britain's public health authorities are pushing smokers to switch to it as a safer choice; experts in the U.S. have warned that electronic cigarettes increase the risk of nicotine addiction among young people, while the World Health Organization has said uneasily that warming up electronic cigarettes can lead to the formation of toxic substances.
"Any smoker considering e-cigarettes should switch completely without delay".
But most research has focused on the chemical composition of e-cigarette liquid before it is vaped. 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.
The researchers "caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe".
This latest research into the nascent world of vaping suggests that the lungs, when faced with an attack of cinnamon-infused nicotine vapour sucked through the beard-surrounded lips of a modern smoker, may disable some immune cell function; and has the added bonus effect of increasing inflammation.
In the meantime, Martin Dockrell, the tobacco control lead at Public Health England admitted that e-cigarettes are definitely not risk-free but it's less harmful than smoking. Treatment with an antioxidant, however, restored that ability and helped reduce other damage caused by e-cigarette fluid, Thickett's team found.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the country's top Catholic body that Wilson once led, had no immediate comment. Wilson for two months refused to quit following his conviction, claiming he wanted to wait for the outcome of his appeal.
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