In a study with mice, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers have found that e-cigarettes compromise the immune system in the lungs and generate some of the same potentially dangerous chemicals found in traditional nicotine cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are an emerging public health health concern, as they gain popularity among current and former smokers as well as those who have never smoked, including teenagers. The perception that e-cigarettes pose little health risk is so entrenched that some smokers, including those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes. (Many COPD patients continue to smoke after their diagnosis.) Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are sources of nicotine. E-cigarettes contain less nicotine than cigarettes, but actual nicotine intake by e-cigarette users can approximate that of cigarette smokers.
For their study, researchers divided the mice into two groups: one was exposed to e-cigarette vapor in an inhalation chamber in amounts that approximated actual human e-cigarette inhalation for two weeks, while the other group was just exposed to air. The researchers then divided each group into three subgroups. One received nasal drops containing Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria responsible for pneumonia and sinusitis, among other illnesses, in humans. A second received nasal drops of the virus Influenza A, and the third subgroup did not receive either virus or bacteria.
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