Central Michigan University (CMU)researchers have found that inhaling the vapor of electronic cigarettes could lead to emphysema and even minimal exposure (as little as an hour) to the vapor created harmful changes to human bronchial epithelial cells that were used during testing.
E-cigarette companies tout these battery operated devices as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes with claims that the devices are “tar- and tobacco-free”, but the nicotine and other chemicals that become an aerosol or vapor disrupt the protein processes in bronchial cells, gradually damaging alveoli.
Because the vapor takes the same path cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke takes in our bodies, people are just as likely to develop complications in breathing due to alveoli damage as those who smoke traditional cigarettes.
"What we are talking about is how these proteins are made and how they are degraded. This process of proteostasis in our cells has to be very — in layman's terms — tightly regulated, because if it goes off-balance, it's a big problem,” said Neeraj Vij, associate professor of molecular and cell biology, CMU.
Additionally, a recent report published in the New York Times found that “e-cigarette use among middle- and high-school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, and e-cigarettes are now more popular among high-school students than traditional cigarettes.” Study results, such as CMU’s, are timely and necessary as it becomes critical that teens and adults alike are properly informed about the hazards and risks associated with these devices.