E-cigarettes, often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional smoking, face scrutiny in a new study conducted by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. The study focused on a reputed brand of nicotine-free e-cigarettes and examined their interaction with human lung tissue cells in a laboratory setting.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that oxidative stress still occurred, challenging the perception that nicotine-free e-cigarettes pose less harm to the body, reports Al-Rai daily.
Oxidative stress occurs when the normal cellular interaction with oxygen becomes imbalanced, leading to cell malfunctions and wear and tear. This stress is associated with increased inflammation and the collapse of blood vessels, contributing to lung injuries.
Biomedical scientist Havovi Chesger from Anglia Ruskin University stated, “It has been proven that nicotine-free e-cigarette liquid has the same chemical composition as liquids containing nicotine. Our findings suggest that exposure to nicotine-free liquids causes similar prooxidative and inflammatory effects on human microvascular endothelial cells.”
Contrary to expectations, the absence of addictive substances in nicotine-free e-cigarettes did not necessarily make them safer for lung tissue. The researchers identified an unusual abundance of a specific protein called ARF6 in nicotine-free e-cigarettes, which seemed responsible for causing damage to lung tissue in the laboratory. While this protein has not been previously linked to smoking or lung injuries, it is known to play a role in ensuring proper blood vessel function in the body.
These findings concerning the impact of ARF6 should inform future investigations into the health effects of e-cigarette smoking, which have traditionally focused on harm caused by nicotine. Chesger emphasized, “E-smoking is a major health concern given the increasing numbers of smokers, especially young teens, and research on its health effects is still at an early stage.”