What Vaping Does to Your Lungs?

You’ve seen them on TV, in photos of celebrities and in magazines. Big superstars using electronic cigarettes. Its high-tech gadgets seem to be available everywhere, from shopping malls to the 24-hour market. Is it any wonder that teenagers are tempted to try Vaping madness? However, scientists are worried about the fascination of teenagers for this nicotine alternative. And with good reasons. Data from a growing number of studies show that e-cigarettes are not harmless.

The chemicals in electronic cigarettes can damage lung tissue and cause inflammation. These damages can reduce the ability of the lungs to prevent the ingress of germs and other harmful substances, new studies show. However, adolescents do not seem to care about emerging data on these risks. Their use of electronic cigarettes has now outstripped traditional cigarettes. Just last year, the use of electronic cigarettes by college and high school teens in the United States.  This is the result of a new government poll released last month.

Mitch Zeller operates the Tobacco Products Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. It is part of the US Food and Drug Administration.

“I can definitely saythat nicotine is harmful to adolescent brain development. And no teenager, even younger, should use tobacco or nicotine-containing products. These include electronic cigarettes.” says Zeller.

Nicotine Without Smoke

Unlike real cigarettes, electronic cigarettes do not burn tobacco. They do not burn anything. Instead, they turn a flavored liquid into Vape. Users inhale or vaporize the mist. The liquid usually contains nicotine. It is a very addictive substance found naturally in tobacco. Its presence in liquid steam is not accidental. Electronic cigarettes have been developed to make smoking easier for smokers. Cigarette consumers become addicted to nicotine in tobacco, a natural stimulant. But smoking also exposes your lungs to tar and other pollutants. Electronic cigarettes allow the user to inhale nicotine without these other substances. However, nicotine is more than addictive. In fact, it can damage the lungs, according to a new study.

The researchers tested the effects of nicotine on lung tissue, which develops in a laboratory dish. These lung cells were exposed to nicotine alone, cigarette smoke and electronic cigarette vapors. Nicotine causes inflammation in the lung tissue. It has also reduced the ability of this tissue to serve as a barrier to other substances, the researchers found. Irina Petrache is a doctor and pulmonary specialist at Indiana University in Indianapolis. She led the research team. Her group has shown for the first time that nicotine can damage lung tissue regardless of its origin. In this sense, her team concludes that Vaping for the lungs would not be better than smoking cigarettes.

But even an electronic cigarette fluid without nicotine interfered with the barrier function of lung cells, the team said. We do not know why but it’s unexpected and disturbing, says Petrache’s team. Scientists suspect that these could be solvents and other potentially toxic substances. These chemicals are contained in flavored liquids that are inhaled by electronic cigarettes. Petrache and her colleagues shared their findings on May 26 in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

More Evidence of Damage

Scientists also collected evidence of the effects of the electronic cigarette’s lung on a small number of people. For example, a study of 25 people found that smoking and Vaping had the same short-term effects on the lungs. Both produced signs of inflammation and lung damage. Scientists reported on the results of toxicology and applied pharmacology from July 1, 2014.

Many other Vaping tests were performed on animals or cell dishes. These studies add to the growing body of evidence of the damage that electronic cigarettes and their flavors can cause. Recently, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill exposed human lung cells to 13 electronic cigarette flavors. The exhibitions lasted 30 minutes or a whole day. Five of the condiments – hot cinnamon sweets, banana pudding, cola, vanilla and menthol tobacco – affected the cells. Sometimes treated cells can no longer replicate (reproduce) at normal rates. In high doses, these condiments have even killed the cells.

Most Vaping companies want people to associate their flavors with popular and branded flavors and tastes, including soft drinks. Vape website products promise,

“This Vape is also true for your favorite soda, which you think drinks with a straw instead of your electronic cigarette,” says Stanford Research on the impact of tobacco advertising


Temperance Rowell and her co-authors presented their findings on May 18 in Denver, Colorado, at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society. At the same meeting last year, Laura Crotty Alexander showed that vaporizing can make it difficult for the body to germinate. Crotty Alexander is a lung specialist and a scientific specialist. She works with the Veterans Administration’s San Diego Healthcare System. Crotty Alexander studied the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Without control, these germs can cause pneumonia. In severe cases, they can kill you. Fortunately, the human body produces material that can normally kill these bacteria.

In the lab she has exposed the bacteria to the vapors of the electronic cigarette. The idea was to create conditions so that these germs can be found in the lungs of someone who has evaporated. Germs responded by covering themselves with a heavier biofilm coating than normal. This gave them a very thick protective layer.

Crotty Alexander then let the mice breathe the air that contained these vapor-grown germs. The next day, mice had three times more of these germs in their lungs than mice exposed to normal Staph bacteria. Obviously, the mice were not good at germs exposed to electronic cigarette vapors.

“Electronic cigarettes are certainly not benign” or harmless, Crotty Alexander concluded.

Lungs inflamed with a damaged barrier may explain why more germs were present. If true, this could also explain the related data released earlier this year.

In this study, the mice inhaled the fumes of the electronic cigarette for two weeks. Their lungs showed signs of inflammation. Later, these animals were exposed to Staphylococcus or the influenza virus. Mice with inflamed lungs were less able to fight the infection than mice that did not shoot. All non-Vaping mice survived and some Vaping mice have even died from the flu.


Journal: R.A. Arrazola et al. Tobacco use among middle and high school students — United States, 2011–2014Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 64, April 17, 2015, p. 381.

Journal: P.A. Tierney et al. Flavour chemicals in electronic cigarette fluidsTobacco Control. Posted early online April 15, 2015. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-052175.

Journal: Y.O. Lee et al. Youth tobacco product use in the United StatesPediatrics. Vol. 135, March 2015. doi: 10.1542/peds2014-3202.

Journal: S.-H. Zhu et al. Four hundred and sixty brands of e-cigarettes and counting: Implications for product regulationTobacco Control. Vol. 23, Supplement 3, July 2014, p. iii3. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-051670.

Journal: J.M. Cameron et al. Variable and potentially fatal amounts of nicotine in e-cigarette nicotine solutionsTobacco Control. Vol. 23, January 2014, p. 77.  doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050604.

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