Queen's Policy Engagement

Vaping makes lung bacteria more harmful and cause more inflammation

Is vaping less harmful than smoking? Dr Deirdre Gilpin and Professor Michael Tunney argue that exposing bacteria in the lungs to vape is likely to carry the same risk as exposure to cigarette smoke.

Vaping makes lung bacteria more harmful and cause more inflammation

Bacteria commonly found in the lungs become more harmful and cause more inflammation when they have been exposed to e-cigarette vapour, in a way that could lead to diseases such as COPD and asthma.

Chronic lung disease results from a complex interplay between infection and inflammation, which can be further complicated by the toxic effects of cigarette smoke. We know that cigarettes are bad for us and, as a result, many smokers have switched to vaping instead.

But is vaping less harmful than smoking? This question has divided specialists in the field. Some, including Public Health England, maintain that vaping is less harmful and a useful way to help people stop smoking. But others, including the European Respiratory Society, argue that the evidence suggests that rather than helping, e-cigarettes are undermining people’s attempts to give up smoking.

The number of people vaping has increased dramatically in recent years. Figures from the World Health Organization show a rise from 7 million in 2011 to 41 million in 2018. And this increase isn’t solely accounted for by people switching from smoking to vaping. According to a recent US study, around 27% of high school students now vape, many of whom aren’t smokers.

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Article originally appeared in The Conversation.

 

The featured image has been used courtesy of a Creative Commons license. 

 

Dr Deirdre Gilpin and Professor Michael Tunney
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Dr Deirdre Gilpin is a Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy. Her research focuses on respiratory infection in chronic lung diseases. Michael Tunney is Professor of Clinical Pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy. He has an international track record in lung microbiome research.

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