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04

Jul

2019

Vaping is Less Harmful than Smoking

Vaping, defined as the consumption of e-cigarettes, is becoming more and more popular around the world. A recent study by Respiratory Research found that vaping, whether flavours are added or not, is less harmful to the lungs than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
When it comes to comparing vaping to smoking, it is necessary to understand the function of the evaporator. E-cigarette devices run on battery power, heating liquid that releases nicotine. The use of e-cigarettes, or "vaping", is gaining ever greater popularity, especially among younger customers. But even long-term smokers see the chance to drop their vice by using an electronic cigarette. Furthermore, vaping is attractive to many people due to the many flavours and tastes such as fruits, chocolate, caramel, etc.
Even former smokers are switching to e-cigarettes in large numbers, as it’s touted as a safer and healthier alternative to smoking. Currently, numerous studies are being conducted on vaping, but the possible long-term health effects are unknown.
 

Possible Health Consequences of Vaping

The chemicals contained in e-cigarette vapour enter the lungs and, according to recent studies, affect the airway and lung function. However, these studies show that e-cigarette vapour contains fewer toxic chemicals compared to the smoke of traditional tobacco cigarettes.
It should not go unmentioned that e-cigarettes can have a negative impact on cell viability, depending on the dosage and flavours added to the liquids. This aspect and its effects have received less attention in the investigations so far and it has not been taken into consideration whether fruit flavours or other flavours have been added to the liquid.
 

A New Form of Study

Pulmonary surfactant can be defined as a mixture of proteins and lipids which line the lung alveolar region. The surfactant layer’s overall function is to lower the alveolar fluid’s surface tension, thus reducing the breathing function and preventing the collapse of the alveolar fluid.
Surfactant is crucial for the function of the lung. Premature babies born without a surfactant experience shortness of breath and must be treated with an exogenous surfactant. Furthermore, the pulmonary surfactant comes into contact with all particles during inhalation, including those from the vapour of an e-cigarette.
The research aimed to understand if the vapour of e-cigarettes influences the ability of the surfactant to minimise the tension on the surface.
The study used a surfactant model of the surfactant extract from calf lungs: Infasurf, which is also used in the medicinal treatment of preterm babies. In the test series, Infasurf was used to compress the surfactant. Thus, the lung function could be imitated, and the surface tension measured.
It was then observed how the surfactant changes when exposed to clean air, the vapour of e-cigarettes with different flavours and the smoke of conventional tobacco cigarettes. Using different flavours was crucial as a change in aroma could alter the chemical makeup of the e-cigarette vapour.
 

Vapour of E-cigarettes and Crucial Lung Function

The study showed that the vapour of e-cigarettes, regardless of the flavour, has no effect on the surfactant's ability to reduce the tension of the surface. In contrast, the ability of the surfactant to lower the surface tension in a significant way is inhibited by traditional cigarettes.
Thus, e-cigarette vapour does not affect the surfactant’s function because the e-cigarette ceases to vaporise but does not burn. However, minor changes in the surfactant may appear following e-cigarette exposure. It can also lead to shifts in the surface tension when a higher dosage of vapour is supplied.
 

E-cigarettes are Not as Harmful as Traditional Tobacco

E-cigarette vapour does not alter the ability of the surfactant to lower surface tension but does affect its microstructure. However, while e-cigarettes don’t affect the surfactant as much as conventional cigarettes, the observed absence of changes in the surfactant function after consumption of electronic cigarettes should not be perceived as non-existent toxicity to the lungs. It is not yet known if e-cigarettes could affect production or secretion of cell surfactant.
Numerous studies are still needed to assess the effects of vaping on the production, secretion and function of surfactants and to understand the pulmonary toxicity of electronic cigarettes.
Nevertheless, these initial studies and tests show that the e-cigarette is considerably less harmful than classic tobacco cigarettes. This gives new hope to millions of smokers to take their first steps into a healthier life with the e-cigarette.

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