It’s been a few years now since vaping came on the scene. Now in full swing many people hail it as the “safe way to smoke,” or an aid to kick the nasty cigarette habit. But e-cigarettes may not be as clean and safe as some think…
The latest report following several that are busting the vape bubble, claims that data shows e-cigarettes are toxic to human airways, suppress immune defenses and alter inflammation, and boost the virulence of a pretty nasty pathogen — MRSA.
“This study shows that e-cigarette vapor is not benign — at high doses it can directly kill lung cells, which is frightening,” said senior author Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “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 vapor daily leads to changes in the inflammatory milieu inside the airways.”
Inflammatory markers — signs of full-body inflammation — were elevated by 10 percent in the airways and blood of mice that inhaled e-cigarette vapors for one hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks, compared to unexposed mice.
“We don’t know specifically which lung and systemic diseases will be caused by the inflammatory changes induced by e-cigarette vapor inhalation, but based on clinical reports of acute toxicities and what we have found in the lab, we believe that they will cause disease in the end,” Crotty Alexander said. “Some of the changes we have found in mice are also found in the airways and blood of conventional cigarette smokers, while others are found in humans with cancer or inflammatory lung diseases.”
MRSA benefits from vaping
But perhaps even more concerning is the effect vaping has on MRSA. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were better able to form biofilms, adhere to and invade airway cells and resist human antimicrobial peptides after exposure to e-cigarette vapor. This deadly pathogen actually benefitted from being exposed to e-cig vapor.
In a mouse model, some mice were infected with normal MRSA bacteria while others were infected with the vamped-up MRSA bacteria that had been pre-exposed to e-cigarette vapor. The mice that were infected with normal MRSA survived, but 25 percent of the mice sickened with the vape-exposed MRSA died.
These bothersome results were consistent with vape fluid from seven different manufacturers.
If you’re unsure about the data behind the reports that claim vaping can be harmful, you might want to approach the habit with an ounce of precaution—and wait until a study comes out that proves its safety.