Science 3 min read

E-cigarette Vapor May Hamper Lungs’ Ability to Fight Infections

A new study conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine revealed that e-cigarette vapor can increase our lungs susceptibility to infections.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Past studies already revealed that smoking e-cigarette could damage the brain stem. But, it appears, the practice can also damage the lungs.

A recent study suggests that inhaling the vapor from an e-cigarette, even without nicotine, raises the odds of dying upon exposure to the flu virus.

A mysterious vaping illness is fast becoming an epidemic. Lots of otherwise healthy-seeming late teens and 20s are getting sick, with symptoms ranging from severe shortness of breath to fever, fatigue, and vomiting.

The treatment has been complicated. Patients feign a lack of knowledge or outrightly deny the substance they might have inhaled. As a result, health professionals are still trying to determine whether a particular toxin has sneaked into vaping products.

With about 20 percent of high schoolers vaping, it becomes essential now more than ever to understand how this practice affects the human body.

In their study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine detailed the potential effects of e-cigarette vapor exposure.

In their experiments involving mice models, the scientists observed that although mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor didn’t develop the same diseases as cigarette-smoking mice, they were not entirely safe either.

How E-Cigarette Vapor Affects the Lungs

Farrah Kheradmand, a pulmonologist at Baylor, sets out to investigate the link between vaping and emphysema. But, the mice didn’t show any noticeable effect.

Then, Matthew Madison, a graduate student from her lab, examined the control group that had been exposed to the e-cigarette vapor without nicotine. That’s when they noticed that the cells looked different from normal ones.

So, the researchers refocused their study to understand how the vaping liquid alters the basic biology of the lung cells.

The researchers observed that seemingly healthy mice were now more vulnerable to small infections.

When the researchers exposed the rodents to an amount of flu virus that would typically not affect a mouse, the vaping mice died. They were unable to protect their lungs from the infection.

The findings revealed that inhaling e-cigarette vapor, without nicotine, fundamentally altered some critical cells in the mice lungs.

According to Kheradmand, these cells are responsible for defending the mice’s lungs against infection. This resulted in the mice developing a dysfunctional lung immune system, which left them vulnerable to bacteria and viral attacks.

The study does have limitations. In a statement to the press, a pulmonologist at UC San DiegoLaura Crotty Alexander said:

“Mice are not humans. They are not a perfect model.”

Since the human lungs are much larger than a mouse’s, it can absorb more vapor. Also, the immune system in humans and mice are not identical. Mice have different cells that could alter how the rodents respond to infection.

With that said, the mouse study still provides insights into what to expect in humans.

Exposing a mouse in this study for four months is sort of the equivalent of 25 to 35 years in a human,” Alexander says.

Read More: E-Cigarette Laws Could Drive Some Users to Smoke Tobacco

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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    Mehmet Bekir Birden September 06 at 11:49 am GMT

    That Alexander clearly vapes herself.

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