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E-cigarettes Not Safe And Potentially Harmful

Update Date: Sep 03, 2012 09:03 AM EDT

Although electronic cigarettes are being marketed as a safer alternative to normal cigarettes, a new study by researchers from The University in Athens in Greece claims that they are not as safe as perceived.

The study has added evidence to the already existing debate over the safety of the devices that deliver nicotine through a vapor, rather than smoke. The process, although does not involve any combustion, still delivers nicotine derived from tobacco.

Researchers, through the current study aimed at investigating the effects of e-cigarettes in the short-term, on different people, including those with no known health problems and smokers lung conditions.

For the study, the participants were asked to use an e-cigarette for 10 minutes and their airway resistance was recorded by the researchers with the help of various tests.

The participants included eight non-smokers and 24 smokers. While 11 of the smokers had normal lung function, 13 reportedly suffered from either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.

The findings of the tests showed that in all the participants, there was an increased airway resistance for 10 minutes. Also, in non-smokers, there was a statistically significant increase in airway resistance from a mean average of 182 percent to 206 percent, reported Science Daily.

In smokers with normal spirometry (one of the tests for the measurement of breath which assesses lung function), there was a statistically significant increase from a mean average of 176 percent to 220 percent.

In participants suffering from wither COPD or asthma, there was no immediate effect seen on airway resistance due to the usage of e-cigarettes.

"We do not yet know whether unapproved nicotine delivery products, such as e-cigarettes, are safer than normal cigarettes, despite marketing claims that they are less harmful. This research helps us to understand how these products could be potentially harmful," Professor Christina Gratziou, one of the authors and Chair of the ERS Tobacco Control Committee was quoted as saying by Science Daily.

"We found an immediate rise in airway resistance in our group of participants, which suggests e-cigarettes can cause immediate harm after smoking the device. More research is needed to understand whether this harm also has lasting effects in the long-term. The ERS recommends following effective smoking cessation treatment guidelines based on clinical evidence which do not advocate the use of such products," she added.

The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna.

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