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E-Cigarettes Tend To Lead To Decreased Immune System And Increased Superbug Attacks

Update Date: Jan 31, 2016 03:12 PM EST

By smoking e-cigarettes, you can expose the human airway cells to damage. They can also suppress the immune system and cause inflammation, even as they boost "superbug virulence", says research at the University of California, San Diego.

"This study shows that e-cigarette vapor is not benign -- at high doses it can directly kill lung cells, which is frightening," Laura Alexander, senior author of the study, said in a press release. "We already knew that inhaling heated chemicals, including the e-liquid ingredients nicotine and propylene glycol, couldn't possibly be good for you. This work confirms that inhalation of e-cigarette vapor daily leads to changes in the inflammatory milieu inside the airways."

Researchers conducted lab as well as mouse experiments to prove their point. While they undertook the mouse experiments, they showed that signs of full-body inflammation increased by 10 percent in the airways and blood of mice that inhaled e-cigarette vapors for an hour a day, five days a week for four weeks. This was pitted against mice that did not breathe in the vapors.

"We don't know specifically which lung and systemic diseases will be caused by the inflammatory changes induced by e-cigarette vapor inhalation, but based on clinical reports of acute toxicities and what we have found in the lab, we believe that they will cause disease in the end," Alexander said. "Some of the changes we have found in mice are also found in the airways and blood of conventional cigarette smokers while others are found in humans with cancer or inflammatory lung diseases."

Moreover, e-cigarette vapor tends to give advantages to bacterial pathogens such as superbugs. It was evidenced by the fact that Staphylococcus aureus bacteria displayed a greater ability to form biofilms, invade cell pathways and resist antimicrobial peptides after e-cigarette vapor exposure. Such findings were reflected in a mouse model of pneumonia, in which mice pre-exposed to e-cigarette vapor displayed higher death rates than unexposed rodents.

The study was published in the Jan. 25,2015 issue of the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

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