Over the years, the smoking of e-cigarette has been known to be safer and less harmful than smoking of the traditional cigarettes. An independent review of the latest evidence on e-cigarette was published in February. In its conclusion, there was an overwhelming evidence that e-cigarette were safer and of negligible risk to bystanders. The review further advised they should be on prescription because of how successful they had been in helping people give up smoking.
However, in a research conducted at the University of Birmingham led by Prof David Thickett says a different story. The study suggested that vaping can damage vital immune system cells in the lungs and accelerated inflammation. This experiment led by Prof Thickett has been published online in the Journal of Thorax.
In this research, the researchers devised a mechanical procedure to mimic vaping in the laboratory. This was done using lung tissue sample provided by eight smokers. Vapour from e-cigarette caused inflammation and activities of alveolar macrophages which are cells that removes potentially harmful substances like dust particles, bacteria and allergens were impaired. The changes took place and was recorded only over 48 hours. The study said some of these effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.
The team however cautioned that results were only under laboratory and advised that further research needed to be done to better understand the long term impact.
Prof Thickett said while e-cigarettes were safer than traditional cigarettes, they may still be harmful in the long-term as research was in its infancy.
“In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens,” he said.
“They 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”.
“I don’t believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes – but we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe.”
Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at Public Health England, said: “E-cigarettes are not 100% risk-free but they are clearly much less harmful than smoking.
“Any smoker considering e-cigarettes should switch completely without delay.”
Source: BBC health news