A recent study conducted at National Jewish Health in Denver is showing that e-cigarette vapors trigger immune responses in the lungs, indicating that the new trend in smoking may be more harmful than initially believed. E-Cigarettes are often branded as a safe, cheap alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
The study was conducted on lung samples taken from 8 to 10 year old children that had been donated for the purpose of scientific study. The study showed that when the epithelial cells were exposed to the E-cig vapor, the cells gave off a strong immune response. This simultaneously weakened the cells, which are designed to protect the organ from harm. This left the lung weak to rhinovirus, a strain that’s most commonly responsible for the common cold.
“Epithelial cells are the first line of defense in our airways,” Wu said. “They protect our bodies from anything dangerous we might inhale. Even without nicotine, this liquid can hurt your epithelial defense system and you will be more likely to get sick.”
The test was done with a machine holding the e-cigarette in one compartment and the lung tissue in a separate, sterile compartment. The machine activated the e-cigarette and pushed the vapors into the sterile compartment. The vapor enflamed the lung tissue whether or not there was nicotine, although nicotine did enflame the tissue more than the vapors without it. The tests were repeated on lab rats with the same results.
In defense of e-cigarettes, Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, claimed that these tests were too limited to accurately replicate the effects of the e-cigarette vapor no human beings because the tests were conducted in a lab on cells.
In response, Dr. Normal Edelman, the senior medical advisor for the American Lung Association, agreed that cell testing was not enough to draw definitive conclusions. However, in conjunction with previous tests that show adults have constricted airways after using e-cigarettes, understanding that the vapors may make lung cells more susceptible to the common cold is an intriguing development.