E-cigarettes can cause small airway obstruction and asthma-like symptoms, experts say (Getty)
So-called electronic cigarettes may or may not contain nicotine. What they certainly do not contain is tobacco, which is why they are presented as a less harmful option and even as an alternative for people who want to quit smoking.
However, they usually contain additives, flavors and chemical products that can be toxic to people’s health, according to alerts from the World Health Organization (WHO).
In this sense, a new investigation came to add evidence about the risk that these devices present to health.
The work of researchers at McGill University in Montreal indicates that “electronic cigarettes can cause cellular and molecular changes in the lungs.” “Specifically, prolonged inhalation of e-cigarette aerosols by mice caused changes in the composition of the animals’ lung immune cells and altered gene and protein levels in the lungs,” they say in the work published in The FASEB Journal. .
For the work, the researchers sought to replicate what happens in human exposures to this type of device (Getty)
The researchers found that even low exposure to aerosols from a popular e-cigarette brand among youth and young adults had significant impacts.
“E-cigarettes currently divide public opinion, with some considering them a useful smoking cessation tool and others concerned about potential adverse health consequences,” the researchers stated in the publication. However, it may take decades to fully understand the effects of e-cigarette use in humans given their relative newness to the market.”
And noting “the need for comprehensive preclinical studies investigating the effects of e-cigarette exposure on health outcomes,” they noted that in the present paper they investigated “the impact of chronic exposure to low-level JUUL aerosols in multiple pulmonary results.
For the work, the researchers sought to replicate what happens in human exposures to these types of devices. To do so, they exposed eight to 12-week-old male and female C57BL/6J mice to commercially available JUUL products (containing 59 mg/mL nicotine). And after exposing them to room air daily for four weeks, they assessed inflammatory markers.
The electronic cigarette is often presented as an alternative to quit smoking (Photo: American Cancer Society)
“Mice exposed to JUUL aerosols for four weeks significantly increased neutrophil and lymphocyte populations in the BAL and some changes in cytokine mRNA expression. However, the BAL cytokines did not change, the study authors concluded. Proteomic and transcriptomic analysis revealed significant changes in numerous biological pathways, including neutrophil degranulation, PPAR signaling, and xenobiotic metabolism. Therefore, e-cigarettes are not inert and can cause significant cellular and molecular changes in the lungs.”
Carolyn J. Baglole, PhD, from McGill University and one of the authors of the paper stressed that “the health consequences of vaping are unknown.” “Our results show that inhalation of the vapor generated by a popular brand of e-cigarettes causes widespread changes within the lungs, data that further highlights that these products are not inert and can cause lung damage with long-term use.”
Other recent research by scientists at Harvard University found that these devices “may cause small airway obstruction and asthma-like symptoms.”
Electronic cigarettes work by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine into an aerosol that is then inhaled (Efe)
The work, which was developed by researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), was published in the New England Journal of Medicine Evidence and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As highlighted in a statement, it was the “first study to microscopically evaluate the lung tissue of electronic cigarette users in search of chronic diseases.”
After analyzing users who are chronic consumers of these electronic cigarettes, the scientists detected that “it can cause obstruction of the small airways and symptoms similar to asthma”, they also identified “fibrosis and damage in the small airways, similar to the damage by chemical inhalation into the lungs typically seen in soldiers returning from conflicts abroad who have inhaled mustard or similar types of noxious gases.
The age of onset of e-cigarette use decreased and the intensity of use and addiction increased between 2014 and 2021 (AFP)
Research by scientists at Children’s Massachusetts General Hospital reported that these devices are more addictive than actual cigarettes, with some school-age users vaping within five minutes of getting up in the morning, they said.
Electronic cigarettes are hooking young children to nicotine, as this document remarked, “some adolescents who vape are as young as 11 years old,” the specialists reported.
Scientists have attributed the phenomenon to a milder, more palatable form of the addictive substance, known as “nicotine salts” or “protonated nicotine,” a liquid-based version. “The changes detected in this survey study may reflect higher levels of nicotine delivery and addiction liability,” said author Professor Jonathan Winickoff.
A recent report from the United States government, one of the countries that is at the forefront in the analysis of this phenomenon, revealed that at least 2.6 million children in that country are consuming electronic cigarettes. The specialists published their findings in the JAMA Network Open journal.
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