Vaping Has New Harmful Effects: A Study Has Discovered That Lung Inflammation Is Worse in E-Cigarette Users Than Smokers

Vaping Has New Harmful Effects: A Study Has Discovered That Lung Inflammation Is Worse in E-Cigarett ...

Vaping refers to the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, which are devices that heat a liquid to an aerosol that is then inhaled. Although it is not yet widely accepted, there is concern about the health hazards that come with using it.

People who use electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes have an increased level of lung inflammation, according to a new research published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. This is the first research to demonstrate that using e-cigarettes to vape e-liquids produces a unique inflammatory response in the lung different from that seen in cigarette smoking.

In recent years, the use of e-cigarettes has seen a significant increase, especially among young adults and adolescents. Despite the widespread belief that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, they have been found to increase the likelihood of lung disease and contribute to overall health problems.

This is the first PET study to use a new radiotracer, 18F-NOS, to investigate lung inflammation in cigarette and e-cigarette users in vivo. Although PET imaging with 18F-FDG has been used in the past to investigate inflammation in smokers and vapers, its conclusions have been mixed.

Reagan Wetherill, Ph.D., the study's lead author and faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, said the enzyme is useful for molecular imaging of lung inflammation and inflammatory lung disease.

Summary of the pilot study and preliminary PET imaging findings. Credit: R Wetherill, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

To quantify and compare lung inflammation, study participants were divided into three age- and gender-matched groups: five e-cigarette users, five cigarette smokers, and five never-smoked/vaped controls.

E-cigarette users displayed higher pulmonary inflammation than smokers who never smoked or vaped. There was also a positive correlation between pulmonary and peripheral measures of inflammation, suggesting that e-cigarette use may increase pulmonary inflammation.

Wetherill says the analysis provided additional evidence that e-cigarette use may be harmful to the lungs. "Our work advances what is currently known about e-cigarette use and provides a better understanding of harm and harm reduction associated with e-cigarette use compared to cigarette smoking."

Jacob Dubroff, a senior author and Perelman School of Medicine faculty member in the Department of Radiology, believes there is a growing need for molecular imaging to investigate the effects of electronic cigarettes. "These findings suggest that molecular imaging may be uniquely poised to detect and quantify the potential pathophysiologic harms associated with electronic cigarettes, which have previously been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes."

Reagan R. Wetherill, Robert K. Doot, Anthony J. Young, Hsiaoju Lee, Corinde E. Wiers, Frank T. Leone, Robert H. Mach, Henry R. Kranzler, and Jacob G. Dubroff, January 2023, Journal of Nuclear Medicine. DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.122.264529

The National Heart, Lung, and Brain Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) funded the research.

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