More Ev­i­dence Against Va­p­ing

The sim­i­lar­i­ties to cig­a­rettes keep mount­ing: A new study finds va­p­ing makes the lungs as vulnerable to in­fec­tions as smok­ing the tra­di­tional way

Newsweek - - Newsweek - BY KASHMIRA GAN­DER @kash­mi­ra­gan­der

Sim­i­lar­i­ties to Cig­a­rettes Keep Mount­ing

Amid more than 50 deaths and thou­sands of hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in the U.S. at­trib­uted to e-cigaret­teor va­p­ing- as­so­ci­ated lung injury, and the CDC’S rec­om­men­da­tion to re­frain from all va­p­ing prod­ucts pend­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, comes a new study.

Sci­en­tists found that va­p­ing may carry the same risk as cig­a­rette smoke when it comes to mak­ing the lungs more sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tions, and they pub­lished this re­search in mid-de­cem­ber in the jour­nal Res­pi­ra­tory Re­search.

Va­p­ing is the in­hala­tion of a heated liq­uid, which be­comes aerosolize­d. It was in­tro­duced to the mar­ket in the U.S. in 2007, and ac­cord­ing to Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional, the num­ber of vapers has in­creased from about 7 mil­lion in 2011 to 41 mil­lion in 2018.

To reach their con­clu­sion, re­searchers grew bac­te­ria in a lab and ex­posed them to e-cig­a­rette va­por and cig­a­rette smoke.

The bugs in ques­tion—haemophilu­s in­fluen­zae, Strep­to­coc­cus pneu­mo­niae, Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus and Pseu­domonas aerug­i­nosa—can live in the lungs with­out caus­ing prob­lems.

But the bac­te­ria can cause a “toxic mix of in­fec­tion and in­flam­ma­tion” in the lungs of peo­ple who al­ready have con­di­tions such as Chronic Ob­struc­tive Pul­monary Dis­ease (COPD), bron­chi­tis and asthma, study co-author Dr.

Deirdre Gilpin of the School of Phar­macy at Queen’s Univer­sity Belfast told Newsweek.

“This can re­sult in the lungs be­com­ing dam­aged and not able to func­tion well,” Gilpin said.

However, when the team ex­posed the bac­te­ria to cig­a­rette smoke and e-cig­a­rette va­por, they be­came more vir­u­lent, or po­ten­tially harm­ful, in a way that could cause dis­eases such as COPD and asthma, Gilpin ex­plained.

While she didn’t ex­pect this, Gilpin found the changes in bac­te­ria ex­posed to e-cig­a­rette va­por to be the same—and some­times greater— than those seen with cig­a­rette smoke. “This sug­gests that va­p­ing may carry the same risk as cig­a­rette smoke in in­creas­ing the sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to bac­te­ria in­fec­tion,” Gilpin said.

However, she also high­lighted that both the smoke and va­por were gen­er­ated in the lab in the same way. But in real life, peo­ple smoke and vape dif­fer­ently, as the lat­ter re­quires a deeper in­hala­tion, and peo­ple may vape for longer at each ses­sion.

“It’s pos­si­ble that the ef­fects we ob­served with vape could be po­ten­tially greater in real life,” she said. Gilpin added that there are thou­sands of dif­fer­ent e-cig­a­rette fla­vors on the mar­ket, some of which are toxic. In­ves­ti­gat­ing these in the fu­ture and with more pa­tient sam­ples is “re­ally im­por­tant,” she said.

“Ideally we would en­cour­age— par­tic­u­larly young non-smok­ers—not to start va­p­ing,” Gilpin con­tin­ued. She sug­gested that peo­ple try­ing to quit smok­ing use al­ter­na­tive meth­ods.

“Va­p­ing is of­ten quoted as be­ing less harm­ful than smok­ing,” Gilpin stressed. “But less harm­ful isn’t the same as safe, and re­sults from our study sug­gest that ex­pos­ing lung bac­te­ria to vape may carry the same risk as smok­ing.”

“We ur­gently need more re­search about the long-term ef­fects of va­p­ing on the lungs,” she con­cluded.

Dr. Panagis Gali­at­satos, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of pul­monary and crit­i­cal care medicine at Johns Hop­kins Med­i­cal School and a spokesper­son for the American Lung As­so­ci­a­tion, who did not work on the re­search, com­mented on the pa­per. Re­fer­ring to the bac­te­ria which pop­u­late the lungs, he told Newsweek, the study “tells us that va­p­ing may be­gin to change the mi­cro­biome of our lungs.”

“Our lungs’ nor­mal mi­cro­biomes are made of bac­te­ria that live in an eco­log­i­cal com­mu­nity in a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with our lungs. When we al­low the preva­lence of more path­o­genic bac­te­ria to in­crease (e.g., Pseu­domonas) and/or be­come more vir­u­lent, then we cre­ate a sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to dis­ease ini­ti­a­tion and/or pro­gres­sion,” ex­plained Gali­at­satos.

Asked whether those who use e-cig­a­rettes should stop, he said doc­tors should tell their patients “to stop smok­ing, whether com­bustible or elec­tronic cig­a­rettes.”

“More im­por­tantly, any ac­tiv­ity that has the abil­ity to weaken lung im­mune de­fenses and tip the mi­cro­biome in fa­vor of path­o­genic bac­te­ria, then these per­sons will be more sus­cep­ti­ble to lung-re­lated dis­eases in the fu­ture,” Gali­at­satos said.

UP IN SMOKE Va­p­ing may change the mi­cro­biome of our lungs, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Panagis Gali­at­satos, a spokesman for the American Lung As­so­ci­a­tion. This could weaken im­mune de­fenses and make peo­ple “more sus­cep­ti­ble to lung-re­lated dis­eases in the fu­ture.”

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