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New study confirms vaping is not safer than smoking- it obstructs mucus clearance

Research published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine confirms that E-cigarette vaping with nicotine can obstruct mucus clearance from airways. The new study draws attention to the fact that when human airway cells are exposed to e-cigarette vapor with nicotine, mucus or phlegm moves slowly across the surface.

Team of researchers from the University of Miami, University of Kansas and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach have recognized this phenomenon as “mucociliary dysfunction.” The team also compared the results with vivo sheep, whose airways, being similar to humans react in the same way when exposed to e-cigarette vapor.

Mucociliary dysfunction is responsible for lung diseases, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are a few to name. The study revealed that nicotine vaping weakens ciliary beat frequency and also dehydrates airway fluid. This makes the mucus more viscous or even sticky. As a result, the passageways to the lungs are unable to defend themselves from infection and injury.

“This study grew out of our team’s research on the influence of tobacco smoke on mucus clearance from the airways. The question was whether vape containing nicotine had negative effects on the ability to clear secretions from the airways similar to tobacco smoke,” reports Matthias Salathe, MD, chair of internal medicine and a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center and senior author on the paper.

Moreover, experts revealed that young e-cigarettes users who never smoked developed a high risk of chronic bronchitis, which is developed by chronic production of phlegm, which is also common in tobacco smokers. According to a statement by Dr. Salathe, vaping delivers more nicotine to airways than smoking a single cigarette. Furthermore, through vaping the absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream is lower, which possibly exposes airways to high nicotine concentrations for a long period of time. “Vaping with nicotine is not harmless as commonly assumed by those who start vaping, At the very least, it increases the risk of chronic bronchitis. Our study, along with others, might even question e-cigarettes as a harm reduction approach for current smokers with respect to chronic bronchitis/COPD,” commented Dr Salathe.

Researchers also draw attention to the fact that nicotine had negative effects by stimulation ion channel transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1). When TRPA1 was blocked, it reduced the effects of nicotine which led to clearance in both human and sheep cells.

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