New research shows that despite electronic cigarettes being marketed as a safer alternative to normal cigarettes, they are still causing harm to the lungs. The most recent findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna last week.
For the new study, researchers from the University of Athens aimed to investigate the short-term effects of using e-cigarettes on people without any known health problems and smokers with and without existing lung conditions.
The study included people who had never smoked as well as smokers, some with normal lung function and some with either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. After each person used an electronic cigarette for 10 minutes, the researchers measured their airway resistance using a number of tests, including a spirometry test.
The results showed that for all people in the study, the e-cigarette caused an immediate increase in airway resistance, lasting for 10 minutes. In healthy subjects (never smokers) there was a statistically significant increase in airway resistance from a mean average of 182 percent to 206 percent.
In smokers with normal spirometry there was a statistically significant increase from a mean average of 176 percent to 220 percent. Interestingly, in COPD and asthma patients the use of one e-cigarette seemed to have no immediate effect to airway resistance.
"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. This research helps us to understand how these products could be potentially harmful," noted Professor Christina Gratziou, one of the authors of the new study.
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Source: European Lung Foundation