KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 – E-cigarettes and vape e-liquids, specifically propylene glycol and glycerine, may cause some inflammation in the lungs, a new study revealed.
CNN reported that however, more research is needed to conclude the degree of inflammation which may occur over a prolonged period of time.
“Obviously inhaling stuff is going to have some impact on the lungs,” Dr Peter Shields, a medical oncologist with a focus on lung cancer at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, said.
“I would not make the conclusion that this shows that e-cigs are harmful to your health, but one piece of evidence for that. I would say that we have choices in the world and it makes sense that if you’re not a smoker, you shouldn’t start using e-cigs,” Dr Shields, the lead author of the research paper, said.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, discovered those who had never smoked after using e-cigarettes just twice daily for a month, had propylene glycol in their system associated with changes in inflammatory cell counts in their lungs, although the magnitude of such changes was small.
“But it is still unknown what role, if any, nicotine containing e-cigs are involved in the patients with severe respiratory illness.
“In that context, a lot of us are really looking hard for what might be unique to e-cigs that we wouldn’t see in traditional smokers,” Dr Shields added.
The study polled 30 young adults, ages 21 to 30, who did not have a history of smoking and had not used e-cigarettes.
The adults were randomly assigned into two groups: one being a control group, and the other group instructed to use e-cigarettes at least twice daily, taking 20 puffs for an hour each session, for one month.
The adults in the e-cigarette group were given refillable tank devices with LED screens that had a puff counter, to measure their daily e-cigarette use.
They vaped using e-liquids that contained 50 per cent propylene glycol and 50 per cent vegetable glycerine, without nicotine or any flavours.
All of the adults underwent bronchoscopy at the start of the study, and had their lung tissues and lung health analysed five weeks later.
Between the control group and the e-cigarette group, no significant differences in the levels of inflammatory cells and proteins in the adults’ lungs were found.
But among the adults in the e-cigarette group, the researchers saw a link between the amount of propylene glycol they inhaled and the concentration of inflammatory cells in their lungs.
Shields added that it is quite possible that more use would result in more inflammation, if the study continued for more than one month, and if the e-cigarettes were used more than twice a day or contained flavours and nicotine.
“And now we have direct evidence for inflammation from an important part of e-liquids,” he added.
The study was published at the same time the US is facing a lung disease epidemic associated with vaping habits.