If you are a healthy person and puff on an e-cigarette for just five minutes, your lungs will undergo acute physiological changes. At least this is what's being reported in a recent study. Many people with COPD swear by e-cigarettes and use them regularly to help them quit smoking. But, after reading this report, are they really that safe?
As reported recently in Reuters Health, the study finds that the electronic cigarette, which is marketed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, produces immediate changes in a person's airways. Although there are no studies showing what the long-term health effects of the e-cigarette are, scientists and the FDA are saying that there are far too many unanswered questions about the safety of this product.
According to lead researcher Constantine I. Vardavas of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health "This is the first evidence that just one (e-cigarette) use can have acute physiologic effects."
During the study, researchers asked two groups (30 in an experimental group and 10 in a control group) of healthy smokers (smokers not diagnosed with lung disease, acute illness, etc) to puff on an e-cigarette ad lib for 5 minutes to determine the effects on their airways. After five minutes, participants were given several types of breathing tests.
Study results concluded that "using an e-cigarette for 5 minutes was found to cause an increase in impedance, peripheral airway flow resistance and oxidative stress among healthy smokers". However, the authors stated that "while the differences within our study are of statistical significance, the clinical changes may be too small to be of major clinical importance. " Additionally, authors noted that the clinical impact of using the e-cigarette may be greater in the average consumer who is likely to use the product many times during the day and not just for five minutes as which occurred during the study. Further research is needed to determine whether the short-term effects of the e-cigarette could translate into long-term health risks.
But, there are always two sides to every story, and the e-cigarette is no exception. Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association says "we already know e-cigarettes are much safer than the conventional cigarette because you're not burning it, and you don't have the five or six thousand ingredients in cigarettes, which are mostly dangerous chemicals." According to Story, e-cigs contain only nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerol and flavoring. He further states "these ingredients are all FDA-approved."
In fact, on its website, the FDA states that "e-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans, and may contain other ingredients that may not be safe." In 2010, the FDA tried to the stop the sale of e-cigs and failed. They even tried to regulate e-cigs as drugs. One thing is certain -- it's clear that the FDA and the e-cigarette industry have a relationship that is strained, at best.
Visit Reuters Health for more information about this study.
Do you smoke e-cigarettes? Have they helped you quit smoking? Do you think the FDA has its own agenda in this story? Or, do you think they have a right to step in? Leave your comments and be sure to take the poll.