E-cigarette or electronic cigarette is generally known as a safer alternative to smoking. However, a new study published in the journal Chest shows that e-cigarette can cause immediate airway constriction.
This new study was conducted by researchers in Greece and led by Constantine I. Vardavas from the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health.
For the new study, Vardavas and colleagues in Athens had 30 men who puffed on an e-cigarette to see how it affected their airways. The researchers discovered that after only five minutes of exposure, the e-cigarette users showed signs of airway constriction and inflammation.
“This is the first evidence showing that just one electric cigarette can cause acute physiological effects,” said led researcher Vardavas, as reported in Reuters.
“It is not known whether that short-term response could translate into health effects in the long run, including lung diseases like emphysema and lung cancer. More studies on the long-term effects of e-cigarette are needed.”
“But, if e-cigarette trigger airway effects after just a few minutes, that raises concerns about repeated use of the product over time. If there are claims that e-cigarette has no health effects, that’s not true,” he noted.
“We already know e-cigarette is much safer than the conventional cigarette because you’re not burning it, and you don’t have the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes,” said Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.
E-cigarette is made with only five ingredients: nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerol and flavoring. All of these ingredients are approved by the FDA and have been marketed as causing no negative health effects. But the FDA says on its website that “e-cigarettes may contain other ingredients that may not be safe.”
Indeed, the FDA and the e-cigarette industry have had a rocky relationship.
Vardavas said it’s not clear why e-cigarette increased airway constriction. However, he believes one or more ingredients in the e-cigarette may be responsible, but it’s not known which they are.
While many e-cigarettes are promoted to be a way to help quit smoking, the researchers warn consumers to avoid it and advise them to stick on methods that are proven to work, such as nicotine patches, gum, and prescription medications like bupropion and varenicline.