The debate as to whether electronic cigarettes actually help people quit smoking has not yet been settled. According to a study from the University of Rochester, e-cigarettes are a type of toxic substitute for tobacco products. Flavorings and aerosols harm lung cells since they create dangerous free radicals and potentiate inflammation in lung tissue.
The study, published in PLOS ONE is titled “Vapors Produced by Electronic Cigarettes and E-Juices with Flavorings Induce Toxicity, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammatory Response in Lung Epithelial Cells and in Mouse Lung.“
The research suggests that when e-cigarettes’ heating element is activated, it is transformed into an aerosol that imitates cigarette smoke. The inhaled vapor contains tiny particles of heavy metals and more carcinogens that go into the blood stream, cell systems and lung tissue.
The study was led by Irfan Rahman, who is a professor at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Several leading medical groups, organizations, and scientists are concerned about the lack of restrictions and regulations for e-cigarettes. Our research affirms that e-cigarettes may pose significant health risks and should be investigated further. It seems that every day a new e-cigarette product is launched without knowing the harmful health effects of these products,” Dr. Rahman said in a press release.
The American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society for Clinical Oncology say that e-cigarettes should be restricted by the FDA until more is learned about possible adverse effects.
There is a specific concern for e-cigarettes and young people under 18 years old, as researchers think this new trend will make smoking socially acceptable again. Some e-liquid flavorings are sold to kids and teens and are easily available.
There is also a trend known as “dripping” that allows e-cigarettes users to drip an e-liquid right onto the cigarette’s heating element instead of using a chamber that can be refilled to hold the liquid. Those who smoke using the “dripping” technique get a stronger hit and can switch between brands, flavors or nicotine content. However, this has been found to produce higher amounts of toxins that go straight into the lungs.
Dr. Rahman notes that because manufacturers do not disclose all the chemicals and materials used to make the cigarettes, consumers might not be completely aware of the dangers they are be being exposed to.