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Regardless of e-liquid flavor, vaping ‘does not affect lung surfactant,’ says new e-cig study

There have been any recent vaping studies which suggest switching to vaping from combustible cigarettes may help to repair lung damage commonly found in asthma patients.  New research conducted by scientists from an American university now indicates that vaping alone causes no measurable damage to lung surfactant.  Smoking, on the other hand, is immediately and highly toxic on many different levels, even after smoking a single cigarette.

Lung surfactant is a thin coating of mucus-like substance which protects the interior lining of the lungs from surface tension caused by the body’s alveolar fluid.  Surfactant makes breathing less laborious.  However, for those who suffer from medical disorders which negatively affect the production of lung surfactant, many respiratory disorders can soon develop.  Common examples might include emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.

The Ohio University vaping study  

The Ohio University study entitled Electronic cigarette vapor alters the lateral structure but not tensiometric properties of calf lung surfactant is published in BMC Respiratory Research.  Through a series of extensive laboratory experiments where the researchers substituted calf lungs for the human variety, scientists from Ohio University in Athens exposed the surfactant to both the vapor from e-cigs and the smoke from combustible cigarettes.  All the while, they were monitoring, measuring, and comparing the varying levels of surface tension being applied to the surfactant and the lungs themselves.

In the past, authors of studies involving measurable respiratory effects of vaping compared to smoking usually qualify their findings by claiming that “results will vary depending on the vaping device and e-liquids being used,” or something to that effect.  Most previous studies in this field also conclude that the very small particles of e-cig vapor do indeed travel deep into the lung cavity just like cigarette smoke.  The question has always been which is more toxic: vaping or smoking.

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Furthermore, social media has been abuzz lately with news stories claiming that certain vaping flavors are more toxic than others.  One report even mentions the specific e-liquid flavors of coffee, watermelon, and blueberry as being over 10,000 times more toxic than the more common tobacco flavorings, for example.

The Ohio University scientists wanted to lay all of these “flavor fears” to rest once and for all.  So, they decided to expose the lung surfactant to e-cig vapor produced by lots of different flavors of e-liquid.  What they discovered is that the e-cig vapor - regardless of the flavoring or its nicotine levels- does not cause any measurable damage to the lung surfactant.

“E-cigarette vapor regardless of the dose and flavoring of the e-liquid did not affect surfactant interfacial properties. In contrast, smoke from conventional cigarettes had a drastic, dose-dependent effect on Infasurf®interfacial properties reducing the maximum surface pressure from 65.1 ± 0.2 mN/m to 46.1 ± 1.3 mN/m at the highest dose. Cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor both altered surfactant microstructure resulting in an increase in the area of lipid multilayers. Studies with individual smoke components revealed that tar was the smoke component most disruptive to surfactant function.”

The Ohio University scientists are also careful to state in their published report that vaping is likely not 100 percent safe.  But compared to smoking, the data is indisputable.  Compared to smoking, vaping is extremely more healthier and safer.

Their findings are further corroborated by a second e-cig study out of Italy which also focuses on vaping and respiratory function.  The Italian study entitled Health impact of E-cigarettes: a prospective 3.5-year study of regular daily users who have never smoked is located in the medical journal Nature.

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