New e-cigarettes affect users' airways

e-cigarette
A photo of 117mm e-cigarette. Image: Wikipedia.

(Medical Xpress) -- E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are promoted as a safer alternative to smoking. However, a new study published in the journal Chest, shows that these e-cigarettes cause immediate changes in the airways and may not be a as safe as they are promoted to be.

An e-cigarette is a battery operated device that users use to inhale vaporized liquid nicotine in place of regular . The idea behind them was to give smokers something they could smoke without the exposure to the toxins that are found in . It also allows users to “Smoke” without exposing others to second-hand smoke.

This small new study was conducted by researchers in Greece and led by Constantine I. Vardavas from the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study had 30 participants, all healthy non smokers. Some of the were asked to puff on the e-cigarettes for five minutes while others were given the same e-cigarettes but with the nicotine cartridge removed. The researchers discovered that after only five minutes of exposure, the users the cartridge-filled e-cigarettes showed signs of airway constriction and inflammation.

If this airway change is possible after only five minutes of use, the question then becomes what are the possible long-term complications? While this is not known yet, it definitely shows the need for more long-term studies on the product and its risk of leading to conditions such as various lung diseases like emphysema.

E-cigarettes are made with only five ingredients (nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerol and flavoring) that are approved by the FDA and have been marketed as causing no negative health effects. However, this new study shows that this is not the case and that more studies need to look at the potential dangers of this smoking alternative.

While many e-cigarettes are promoted to be a way to help quit smoking, the researchers warn consumers against it and advise that they follow proven quitting methods such as gum and patches and medications such as bupropion and varenicline.


Explore further

Some smokers successfully switch to electronic cigarettes

More information: Acute pulmonary effects of using an e-cigarette: impact on respiratory flow resistance, impedance and exhaled nitric oxide, CHEST December 2011 112443. doi: 10.1378/chest.11-2443

Abstract
Background: Debate exists as to the scientific evidence for their claims that e-cigarettes have no health related ramifications. Our aim was to assess whether using an e-cigarette for five minutes has an impact on pulmonary function tests and exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) among healthy adult smokers.
Methods: 30 healthy non smokers (ages 19-56, 14 male) participated in this laboratory based experimental vs. control group study. Ab lib use of an e-cigarette for 5 minutes with the cartridge included (experimental group n=30) or removed from the device (control group n=10) was assessed.
Results: Using an e-cigarette for 5 minutes was found to lead to an immediate decrease in exhaled FeNO within the experimental group by 2.14ppb, (p=0.005) while not in the control group (p=0.859). Total impedance (Z5Hz) in the experimental group was found to also increase by 0.033kPa/(L/s) (p<0.001) while flow resistance at R5Hz, R10Hz and R20Hz also statistically increased.). Regression analyses controlling for baseline measurements indicated statistically significant decrease in FeNO and an increase in impedance by 0.04kPa/(L/s), (p=0.003), resistance at R5Hz by 0.04kPa/(L/s), (p=0.003),at R10Hz by 0.034kPa/(L/s), (p=0.008), at R20Hz by 0.043kPa/(L/s), (p=0.007), and overall peripheral airway resistance (beta: 0.042 kPa/(L/s), (p=0.024), after using an e-cigarette.
Conclusions: E-cigarettes assessed in the context of this study were found to have immediate adverse physiologic effects after short term use that are similar to some of the effects seen with tobacco smoking, however the long term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown but potentially adverse and worthy of further investigation.

Journal information: Chest

© 2011 PhysOrg.com

Citation: New e-cigarettes affect users' airways (2012, January 6) retrieved 22 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-e-cigarettes-affect-users-airways.html
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User comments

Jan 06, 2012
Sure saw this one coming. While e-cigs are the only thing that has helped me quit, (Tried the patch and gum also), the propylene glycol [which is the main ingredient in fog machine juice] is obviously going to do something to your lungs and airways when it's vaporized.
Imagine just hanging out in a room with a fog machine going for an hour or two a day... That, to me, seems like a pretty good way to get a picture of what one might expect.

Jan 06, 2012
nicotine is biologically active. It is also very addictive. It would be unreasonable to assume that there are NOT any short-term adverse effects from its use. Past research has focussed on the adverse effects of the secondary substances (toxic gases, creosote-like tars, etc) on the user, both short-term and long term. The e-cigarette provides the opportunity to examine the physiological effects of nicotine independent of the combustion products.

Jan 06, 2012
couldnt the nicotine itself cause airway inflammation?

Jan 06, 2012
The e-cigs are inconsistent, and the vapor becomes hot. If they redesigned them well, they could avoid the issue.

Usually the first few puffs are cooler and more 'smokey'. Then you have to start pulling harder and harder for less and less. Your airways are under strain from pulling hard and the hotter vapor.

Propylene glycol in itself doesn't necessarily cause irritation, especially in those amounts, but will for a large fraction of the population who are sensitive to it.

To call it harmless is pointless. They don't market it as 'safe', they market it as 'safer'. Nicotine is itself a harmful toxin. It is certainly possible that it contributes to the inflammation as well.

Jan 06, 2012
And what are the results of smoking a real cigarette for 5 minutes? They forgot to mention that

Jan 06, 2012
I stopped reading after "The study had 30 participants, all healthy smokers."

There is no such thing.

Jan 06, 2012
I stopped reading after "The study had 30 participants, all healthy smokers."

There is no such thing.


Methods: 30 healthy non smokers (ages 19-56, 14 male) participated in this laboratory based experimental vs. control group study.

The article misquoted the study.

Jan 06, 2012
I tried them, the main thing I noticed is that it caused my nicotine tolerance to go up. When smoking cigs u get nicotine and have to wait a few minutes before smoking another one or risk getting a sore throat. Or at least you can't smoke cigs all day long without uncomfortable side effects.

With E cigs you can, you can sit there all day with one in your mouth taking puffs every 30 seconds. The only problem I noticed was a huge decrease in energy (similar to regular cigs) and also my circulation was impaired. People even commented that my skin looked clammy.

Just treat your cigarette addiction like a heroine addiction.
Quit cold turkey and act like you are giving up a highly dangerous and illegal substance, don't even take one drag because it will just delay the cravings and turn it into a cliff instead of a downhill fall.

Trust me I have quit b4 and started up again, now I have been cig free for months and will NEVER go back. I don't want to die of pnemonia, suffocating to death.

Jan 07, 2012
Try kratom to ease the pangs of addiction :)

http://en.wikiped...i/Kratom

Jan 07, 2012
I quit smoking by switching to Swedish Snus. I figure i can get new teeth, but i cant get new lungs! I have avoided the ecigs because i feel it is still the same habit as smoking. Snus delivers nicotine more slowly and can be used for an hour. It is much cheaper too! It is easy to go without snus and chew gum too, because i have broken my smoking oral fixation.

Jan 07, 2012
The study had 30 participants, all healthy non smokers.


They had non-smokers smoke and found that smoking cause non-smokers irritation? Duh!

The people who want to tell everyone else how to live cannot stand e-cigs. E-cigs allow smokers to continue to smoke with a reduced risk and without exposing anyone else to secondhand smoke. That last part is what is not acceptable to the controllers. Smokers are not being punished enough if allowed to use e-cigs.

The Nanny state crowd will be relentless in seeking to regulate e-cigs into oblivion.

Jan 08, 2012
These studies are so weird. I mean, does NO ONE care that it's more healthier to smoke e-cigs than normal? All they do it say that e-cigs are also bad. Well yeah, it probably isn't a good idea to inhale all kinds of crap into your lungs. And yet it's still better than normal cigs, I'd like that these articles to say this somewhere.

Jan 08, 2012
The argument is simple, its smokers vs non smokers and nicotine produces an addiction stronger than heroin.

Who do you think is arguing logically?

Not to mention the carbon monoxide and other neurologically toxic effects of cigarette smoking. It makes you wonder if some people should even be allowed to argue or should they get the same treatment as whiny children begging for a toy?

Jan 08, 2012
If people are stupid enough to smoke go ahead as long as it isn't around me it doesnt bother me and if they die young it saves on Social Security.
If people are stupid enough to use E-Cigs, again it doesn't bother me.

Jan 08, 2012
These studies are so weird. I mean, does NO ONE care that it's more healthier to smoke e-cigs than normal? All they do it say that e-cigs are also bad. Well yeah, it probably isn't a good idea to inhale all kinds of crap into your lungs. And yet it's still better than normal cigs, I'd like that these articles to say this somewhere.


Yeah, I bet its worse for you health to live in polluted parts of the country than it is to use ecigs. It would be one of the greatest medical success stories of all time if smokers around the world switched to e cigs.

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