An American study on laboratory mice shows that regular exposure to the vapors of electronic cigarettes disrupts the protective layer of the lungs. The survey is released as health officials confirmed Friday the death of five users of electronic cigarettes in the United States.
Hundreds of vapers, including consumers of black market cannabis refills, have suffered serious lung disease throughout the United States, making breathing very difficult, including hospital admissions and artificial comas.
An additive containing vitamin E is suspected by New York State to be the cause of the diseases, but federal health authorities have not confirmed that only one substance is involved, pending clear conclusions from laboratory analyzes.
Vitamin E acetate is found in foods, supplements and skin creams, but our lungs are not made to assimilate them.
David Hammond, Professor, School of Public Health, University of Waterloo
The federal authorities said Friday that 450 people suffer from these pulmonary diseases related to vaping. The previous report, shared last week, reported 215 patients.
Impairment of some lung defenses
Researchers have been concerned for years about the potential damage to the lungs and heart, as well as the risk of burns and convulsions in people who use electronic cigarettes.
In this context, Dr. Farrah Kheradmand, a pulmonologist and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who has been studying the effects of cigarette smoke for years, has initiated a study to determine whether the products contained in these alternatives cause emphysema in laboratory mice.
Pulmonary emphysema is a destruction of the lining of the lungs.
Mice are obviously very different from humans, but it is believed that what happens in their lung cells also occurs in other mammals, including humans.
For example, researchers compared the effects of electronic cigarette vapors and tobacco smoke for four months on mice. This corresponds to a regular consumption of adolescence until the age of about 49 years. A third group was exposed to clean air and a fourth group to solvents.
They found that inhaling vapors weakened some lung defenses.
Mice that inhaled vapors from electronic cigarettes for four months did not develop lung inflammation or emphysema. However, exposure to these vapors, independently of nicotine, has altered pulmonary lipid homeostasis in cells in the lungs , the study says.
In many cases of lung disease under study, centers for the control and prevention of American diseases have indicated that the respiratory symptoms of patients are progressively worsening.
Some of them also reported gastrointestinal disturbances, vomiting and diarrhea, and other symptoms such as fever or fatigue.
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Accumulation of fat in the lungs
Instead of seeing signs of inflammation and emphysema caused by nicotine-free e-cigarettes, researchers have discovered an abnormal accumulation of fats that damages the lungs and impairs their ability to fight infections, such as the flu.
Doctors have previously reported cases of pulmonary lesions associated with the inhalation of electronic cigarette vapors, including “lipoid pneumonia,” which is the accumulation of fat in the lungs.
The researchers also found that chronic inhalation of electronic cigarette vapors disrupted the ability of immune cells in the lungs, called macrophages, to effectively fight off influenza infection.
Given the large number of adolescents who regularly use e-cigarettes, the authors of the study said their findings should alert regulatory and epidemiological officials to the potential risk of using an electronic system. Nicotine distribution can pose for this vulnerable population .
For Dr. Akshay Bagai, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, it remains to be seen whether the lung lesions of the approximately 450 cases reported in the United States are similar to those seen in laboratory mice.
No cases have been reported in Canada. Health authorities on both sides of the border warned against buying electronic cigarettes, including those containing THC or other cannabinoids.
Given what we know about the addictive nature of nicotine and the mysterious and serious respiratory diseases associated with vaping, I advise people to abstain.
Dr. Akshay Bagai, Cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto
The City of San Francisco has made a radical decision, since the sale of electronic cigarettes will be banned by 2020.