The emergence of e-cigarettes on the market seems like the most beautiful gift for smokers who are struggling to quit smoking, and maybe also social smokers who are just curious to try the latest trends. In a way, electric cigarettes provide all the pleasures of smoking tobacco with almost zero health risks, because in fact you only breathe water vapor and a little trace of nicotine.
Even though the use of e-cigarettes is increasing nowadays, not everyone is sure that vaping should be recommended as an alternative to tobacco smoking. A number of studies suspect that electronic cigarettes may contain harmful substances that have a detrimental effect on the lungs of their users. Here's a further explanation.
Electric cigarettes cause inflammation in the lungs
To examine the use of e-cigarettes on lung health, a research team from the Hellenic Cancer Society, Athens, reported by the Daily Mail, examined 54 tobacco smokers and vape aged 18-31 years. Of all, 27 had mild asthma. Researchers measured their lung function after each group smoked tobacco cigarettes and inhaled vape. Researchers also tested whether their lungs showed symptoms of inflammation, by measuring how much nitric oxide (NO) was exhaled. NO is a gas molecule produced by cells in the respiratory tract as an inflammatory response.
The researchers found e-cigarette users showed worse results on both tests than people who did not use vape. And the findings are more severe in people with asthma.
"Electronic cigarettes immediately damage lung function, which lasts for less than 30 minutes after smoking," said Dr. Andreas Lappas, of the Hellenic Cancer Society, Athens, the study author. Lappas continued, these results show that, as with tobacco smoking, vaping has a short-term effect that is more dangerous for asthmatics than for healthy smokers. This inflammatory effect in the lungs can trigger lung disease over time.
Commenting on this study, The British Lung Foundation recognizes that vaping can harm the lungs. Another study found that samples of white blood cells exposed to electric vapor released compounds that cause inflammation, suggesting that breathing vape vapors might have the same effect on the body.
Electric smoking can trigger cancer
Nicotine is not the main actor behind the threat of the dangers of cigarettes, but the smoke produced from the cigarette itself. Igniting matches on cigarettes causes tobacco leaves and cellulose paper to become burned. This combustion then releases free radical poisons that not only cause cancer, but also heart disease and various other problems.
Meanwhile, e-cigarettes use heat from the battery to vaporize a mixture of nicotine, glycerol or propylene glycol, and flavor (depending on the product). Heating occurs at a much lower temperature than burning in tobacco cigarettes, so it seems reasonable that vaping will not cause the release of all poisons that are the same as cigarettes.
But vape ad claims that you only breathe water vapor and traces of nicotine are not entirely true, according to Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, reported from The Week. Electric cigarette smoke may contain traces of cancer-causing chemicals, such as formalin, aldehyde, acrolein, and diethylene glycol, or toxic metals such as nickel. The higher the battery voltage, the higher the temperature in the coil in e-cigarettes - and the higher the heat produced means the greater the amount of chemicals released.
Emissions also vary based on how long the e-cigarette has been used. The longer it is used, the higher the level of chemicals released, including formalin, acetaldehyde, and acrolein - all are carcinogens or respiratory irritating agents. This is because chemical residues accumulate in or near the heating coil. As this residue heats up, vape releases even more chemicals.
This combination of chemicals can trigger cell damage that can cause cancer, said researchers from the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. Researchers used the fumigation technique of vapor vapors directly on samples of healthy epithelial cells (which line organs, glands, and entire body cavities - including the mouth and lungs) in the petri dish. They found this chemical toxin harms body cells in a way that can trigger tumor development even if the vape is nicotine free.
Based on these studies, affected body cells are more likely to be programmed to experience cell injury (necrosis) or cell death (apoptosis). The cells that are affected by smoke, in particular, show signs of breaking the DNA double helix chain. When one or both chains break and the cell repair process does not work properly, this can cause cancer.
Vaping still has no rules
The scientific evidence behind e-cigarettes is still very limited and inconclusive. Electric cigarette is also not regulated by the US FDA or BPOM RI, which basically allows e-cigarette manufacturers to operate without much supervision over the contents of nicotine and other chemical components in their e-cigarettes. The available evidence to date shows that e-cigarettes produce poisons at very low levels compared to tobacco cigarettes, so health experts think vaping risk tends to be low - and certainly much lower than tobacco.
On the other hand, chronic diseases such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease need several years to develop - the use of vape that has only recently become widespread so it is not long enough to develop disease. Also, most e-cigarette users are smokers or ex-smokers, so it will be difficult to decipher whether smoking or vaping is the real cause of any disease that might develop.
Studies have examined the effects of e-cigarette smoke on cultured cells and laboratory animals, but no one has accurately told us what could actually happen due to the use of e-cigarettes in the real world in human in the long run.
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