Experts Discover Vaping Is Far More Dangerous Than Smoking Traditional Cigarettes, Here’s Why

Experts concluded that people who vape are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases and inflammation.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

Vaping has long been considered a much less harmful alternative to smoking since electronic cigarettes contain fewer toxins than cigarette smoke. However, a study by The FASEB Journal found that the liquid inside e-cigarettes carries traces of other harmful substances. Since it would take decades to fully understand the long-term effects on humans, scientists used mice to replicate exposure.

As such, the research was conducted by exposing 8- to 12-week-old mice to Juul vaping pods three times a day over a four-week period. One group experienced 20-minute sessions with one puff of smoke per minute. The routine was designed to mimic the habits of light and moderate e-cigarette users. After the exposure period, inflammatory markers were assessed.

What researchers found was even more alarming than expected. Mice exposed to JUUL vaping aerosols for four weeks had significantly increased neutrophil and lymphocyte populations in the BAL. There were also some changes in cytokine mRNA expression. Proteomic and transcriptomic analysis revealed significant changes in numerous biological pathways.

One of the study’s biggest findings was an increase in the lung neutrophils of each mouse, which are the white blood cells that fight off infection. While that might sound like a good thing, vaping could be causing a further chain reaction that scientists can’t see. That means the smoke could be triggering an alarm signal to the body, asking the immune system for help against potential danger.

As a result, the human body would become more vulnerable to developing inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. “We were quite surprised to see so many changes,” Co-Author of the vaping study and Associate Professor at Montreal’s McGill University, Carolyn Baglole, told Vice. She added that even if the initial lung damage was minor, the volume of changes could indicate future problems.

The findings were backed up by Associate Professor in Medicine at the University of California San Diego Laura Crotty Alexander. An expert in pulmonology, she said the results from vaping are similar to her own e-cigarette experiments. Her data implies that if a person who vapes were to get bacterial pneumonia, they’d respond more severely than someone who doesn’t vape.

Speaking to Vice, Crotty Alexander said any change in the immune state of a person’s lungs is concerning, as it indicates that the organ will respond differently when it has other challenges. “Dealing with these complications can take a toll on patients and their doctors, as it’s hard to convince people to take these vaping warnings seriously,” she told the publication.

While the vaping study discovered that Juul altered the pulmonary immune landscape in mice, Carolyn Baglole says more research is needed to properly confirm the human implications. Still, the findings prove what many anti-smoking campaigns already suspect – that vaping is just as harmful.

Although the physiology of mice and their lungs are fundamentally different from humans, Baglole believes scientists might find similar molecular and immunological changes in a similar study on humans. So maybe it would be a good idea to quit all kinds of vaping and smoking for now.