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Do you believe e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to smoking? Think again. Pixabay

North Carolina, October 23, 2017 : Vaping and e-cigarettes comprise a considerably new trend in the market, having been around for only for a decade or so. While their use has not been widespread, with mostly the younger population choosing it, a majority of the people are not even aware about it. However, out of those who know, it is a common belief that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to regular smoking.

Contrary to regular cigarettes that burn tobacco, e-cigarettes deliver nicotine to the smoker in the form of water vapor. Due to this diluted consumption, most people imagine vaping is healthier than smoking. But is that really true?


While it will not be wrong to say that e-cigarette vapor smoke does not contain the same composition and amount of carcinogenic compounds as regular cigarette smoke, a new research suggests that ‘vaping’ may have its own harmful effects.

According to researchers from the University of North Carolina, the use of e-cigarettes can lead to inflammatory lung disease, triggered by extremely harmful response in the lung to the vapor smoke.

The Study Findings

For the study that has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine researchers examined the sputum samples of 44 non-smokers, e-cigarette users, and current cigarette smokers. Sputum is a combination of saliva and mucus, coughed from the respiratory tract which is often caused by some infection or disease.

  • Analysis found that the batch of e-cigarette smokers had a significant increase in neutrophil granulocyte- and neutrophil-extracellular-trap (NET)-related proteins, which are our immune system’s first line of defense against infection causing pathogens.
  • However, it was also revealed that while neutrophils are helpful in combating infectious pathogens, they are also known to contribute to lung diseases like COPD (a group of lung diseases that block the air flow, making it difficult to breathe) and cystic fibrosis (a life threatening disorder that gravely damages the lungs and the digestive system).
  • Additionally, the researchers also identified a similar positive trend in specific biomarkers of oxidative stress between e-cigarette users and regular cigarette smokers that have been understood as causative of lung diseases.
  • Furthermore, common increase in mucinn 5AC, which is associated with asthma and chronic bronchitis, was revealed in both, e-cigarette and cigarette users.

While smoking, in any way, is harmful, it is important to note here that regular cigarette smoke and vapor smoke are two different compounds which can (and do) have different effects on the body. According to Dr. Mehmet Kesimer, senior author of the new study, “Comparing the harm of e-cigarettes with cigarettes is a little like comparing apples to oranges.”

ALSO READ Banning E-Cigarettes Deprives Indian Smokers of a Less Harmful Alternative: Experts

The senior researcher added that the research shows that e-cigarettes have a signature of harm in the lung, which is very similar to that of regular cigarettes, but also unique in its own way. A broader understanding of the harm done by vapor smoke can thus, have implications that challenge the popular belief that it is healthier alternative to consume vapor smoke from e-cigarettes than regular smoking.

It must be noted here that this study was carried out on a small and limited scale, with most e-cigarette smokers previously being cigarette smokers. This duplicity makes it difficult to clearly identify if the study results are strictly related to use of e-cigarettes and vapor smoke.

There have been numerous studies about the harm of e-cigarettes in relation to that of regular cigarettes. However, what makes the study extremely important is its analysis of the unique or novel ways that e-cigarettes could be causing harm to our bodies.

In increasing number of studies previously published have revealed how it is a healthier lifestyle choice to switch from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes. But, new researches have begun to trace the long-term adverse effects of e-cigarettes, which are challenging this switch.

If you are still wondering, the only completely healthy alternative to cigarette smoking is to completely quit smoking.


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