The Jakarta Post
Consumption of vape products in Indonesia started in 2010, with a growing number of vape stores in some of our biggest cities. (Shutterstock/File)
Electronic cigarettes, also known as vape pens or vaporizers, are commonly used as a short-term alternative for those in the process of quitting conventional cigarettes. However, having been popular for only five years, scientists have yet to perform any authoritative research to confirm whether it is an effective way to quit smoking or if it really is a dangerous trend.
The biggest uncertainty for the risks comes from the fact that there is a huge variety of manufacturers with different ingredients, as mentioned by The Times. Therefore, previous studies that based their research on the chemical composition of the vape juice in its liquid state can’t quite determine the e-cigarette’s long-term effects.
A new discovery was made, nevertheless, when a small experimental study at the University of Birmingham conducted their research using a mechanical procedure that mimics vaping in the laboratory, and samples lung tissues provided by eight non-smokers.
BBC reports that a study led by Professor David Thickett found “vaporized e-cigarette fluid to be cytotoxic, pro-inflammatory, and inhibiting phagocytosis in alveolar macrophages.”
In layman’s terms, this means that the e-cigarette’s smoke is toxic to living cells, promotes inflammation in the lungs and hinders the removal of pathogens as well as cell debris.
To much surprise, these results are not too different from the effects seen in smokers who regularly smoke cigarettes and people who have chronic lung disease. Furthermore, these changes were recorded in a matter of 48 hours of laboratory conditions, and Thickett says further research is needed to better understand the long-term health impact.
Read also: Vaping may boost pneumonia risk: Study
"They are safer in terms of cancer risk -- but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], then that's something we need to know about,” he said.
Up until today, scientists can agree on one key point: that vaping is almost certainly safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. However, Professor Thickett insists that they may still be harmful in the long-term as research was in its infancy. “We should have a cautious skepticism that they are not as safe as we are being led to believe," he concluded. (saz/mut)