E-cig­a­rettes ‘poi­son the air­ways and weaken the im­mune sys­tem’

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY -

ELEC­TRONIC cig­a­rettes ex­pose the lungs to tox­i­c­ity, re­duce the ef­fec­tive ness of the im­mune sys­tem and en­cour­age bac­te­rial ac­tiv­ity, po­ten­tially mak­ing su­per­bugs more deadly, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Molec­u­lar Medicine. In the US, the use of e-cig­a­rettes tripled from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014 among high school stu­dents, and from 1.1% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014 among mid­dle school stu­dents, sur­pass­ing rates of youth cig­a­rette smok­ing. In the 25-44-year age group, 20% of Amer­i­cans smoke eci­garettes.

While teens smoke them be­cause they are trendy, older smok­ers are turn­ing to them in an at­tempt to give up smok­ing. In­ter­est­ingly, many teens who smoke e-cig­a­rettes then move on to con­ven­tional cig­a­rettes just 1 year later, as re­ported re­cently by Med­i­cal News To­day. In us­ing the de­vice, smok­ers are risk­ing their air­ways and im­mune sys­tems. They are also en­hanc­ing the con­di­tions for col­o­niz­ing bac­te­ria, in­clud­ing some deadly strains.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia-San Diego (UCSD) car­ried out mouse stud­ies to ex­am­ine the ef­fects of e-liq­uids from seven dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers. The sci­en­tists ex­posed mice to e-cig­a­rette vapours for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week over 4 weeks. Re­sults showed that in­flam­ma­tory mark­ers in the air­ways and blood of mice af­ter in­hal­ing evap­ours were 10% higher than those in un­ex­posed mice. Bac­te­ria that had been ex­posed to e-cig­a­rette vapour were more vir­u­lent in mice in­fected with pneu­mo­nia.

When mice were in­fected with nor­mal me­thi­cillin-re­sis­tant Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus (MRSA), an an­tibi­otic-re­sis­tant “su­per­bug,” they sur­vived; but 25% of mice that were in­fected with MRSA af­ter be­ing ex­posed to e-cig­a­rette va­por died. In other words, S. au­reus be­comes more vir­u­lent when ex­posed to e-cig­a­rette va­por. The re­searchers ob­served that ex­pos­ing bac­te­rial pathogens to e-cig­a­rette vapour caused them to thrive. The vapour helped S. au­reus bac­te­ria to form biofilms, to ad­here to and in­vade air­way cells and to re­sist the de­fenses of the hu­man im­mune sys­tem.

Some of the changes ob­served in mice are com­mon to those seen in the air­ways and blood of con­ven­tional cig­a­rette smok­ers. Oth­ers are char­ac­ter­is­tic of hu­man can­cers or in­flam­ma­tory lung dis­ease. “This study shows that e-cig­a­rette va­por is not be­nign; at high doses, it can di­rectly kill lung cells, which is fright­en­ing. We al­ready knew that in­hal­ing heated chem­i­cals, in­clud­ing the e-liq­uid in­gre­di­ents nico­tine and propy­lene gly­col, couldn’t pos­si­bly be good for you. This work con­firms that in­hala­tion of e-cig­a­rette vapour daily leads to changes in the in­flam­ma­tory mi­lieu inside the air­ways.”

Dr. Crotty Alexan­der says it is not yet clear which lung and sys­temic dis­eases will be caused by in­hal­ing e-cig­a­rette vapour, but data sug­gest that acute tox­i­c­i­ties will re­sult from the in­flam­ma­tory changes in­volved.

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