We all know the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but what about vaping? Is it really the safer alternative? A new study conducted by McGill University has found that vaping causes significant cellular and molecular changes in mice – especially in their lungs.
The study exposed male and female mice to Juul pods, the popular sleek vape brand, three times a day over a four-week period. The results showed that even low, repeated exposure to vape smoke can impact the lungs at a cellular and molecular level.
The study found that the bodies of the hotboxed mice showed evidence of lung inflammation and molecular damage, meaning the smoke changed the way information was “read” from their DNA. There was also an increase in the mice’s lung neutrophils, white blood cells that fight off infection. This means that vaping makes the body more vulnerable to developing inflammatory or autoimmune diseases – like pulmonary fibrosis or lupus – and puts vapers at a higher risk of chronic lung disease or certain lung cancers.
Laura Crotty Alexander, an associate professor in medicine at University of California San Diego and expert in pulmonology (respiratory medicine), says the study backs her own research up, too. She’s been conducting e-cigarette experiments since 2013 and says the data implies that if a human who vapes were to get bacterial pneumonia, they’d likely respond more severely than someone who doesn’t vape.
It’s clear from this study that Juul altered the mice’s pulmonary immune landscape, but more research is needed to truly confirm the human implications. While the physiology of mice lungs are fundamentally different from humans, researchers believe that scientists might find “similar molecular and immunological change” in our own bodies if the study was replicated on humans.
So, what now? Could this be the news die-hard fans need to throw down those decay-filled contraptions? For some it’s not so simple, but experts suggest that you make every attempt to eliminate these types of exposures. If you’re deciding between tobacco or vaping, it might be better to stick to the devil we know less about.
It’s clear that vaping is not the safe alternative to smoking that many people thought it was. While more research needs to be done to confirm the human implications of this study, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of vaping and take steps to limit your exposure.