E-cig vapour may 'prevent wounds from healing'

12 June 2017

Chemicals used in the devices affect how the body repairs itself.

The vapour of electronic cigarettes may prevent wounds from healing, new research has found.

According to a new study, the chemicals used in the devices affect how the body repairs itself, which could explain why some e-cig users often suffer from irritable mouth sores and ulcers.

Toxicology experts from the University of Rochester in New York exposed damaged human lung tissue to the vapours of e-cigs while in a laboratory. They wounded the tissue by scratching it, causing some of the cells known as fibroblasts to change and start to repair the damage, which normally involves new tissue growing while the old cells shrink and close the cut.

Read more: E-cigarette fumes could harm an unborn baby’s brain development

However, when in contact with the flavouring chemicals and nicotine of e-cigs, the fibroblast cells were deprived of the energy they required to heal the wound properly.

“While it is perceived that they may be less harmful than conventional smoking, our data shows e-cigarettes can lead to other health issues apart from lung damage,” study leader Dr Irfan Rahman said.

Dr Rahman further noted more studies were needed to examine now the vapours would impact the lungs and mouths of real people, though did point out this could explain constant sores and ulcers suffered by e-cig users.

These findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, come after the doctor’s previous investigation into the link between e-cig vapour and inflammation in the mouth, which could cause gum disease and loss of teeth.

Read more: E-cigarettes ‘much safer than smoking tobacco’

“How much and how often someone is smoking or vaping flavoured e-cigarettes will determine the extent of damage to the gums and oral cavity,” he warned.

Nearly three million adults in Britain have used e-cigarettes in the decade they have been on the market and the gadgets are thought to have helped 22,000 people quit smoking each year.

While electronic cigarettes are deemed a safer option than tobacco, with the liquid nicotine inhaled avoiding the harm caused by tobacco smoke, there is still a range of health issues linked to the gadgets. Previous research by Professor Judith Zelikoff, of New York University, also warned of the danger e-cigarettes have on pregnant mother’s unborn babies, noting it’s worse than smoking tobacco.

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