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E-cigarette vapor hurts lung cells; long-term exposure can lead to COPD and emphysema

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Like tobacco, e-cigarettes affect a smoker’s lungs and long-term exposure could lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – more commonly known as COPD or emphysema – according to the latest research by Central Michigan University College of Medicine’s Neeraj Vij, an associate professor of molecular and cell biology, according to a Central Michigan University May 5, 2015 press release. 

The researchers examined how e-cigarette vapor compared to tobacco smoke by testing how the vapor affects cells. The team found even minimal exposure of e-cigarette vapor for one hour, disrupted the protein processes in cells. It is the same path cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke takes in our bodies. This impairment suggests a potential role in acquiring COPD and emphysema, both of which are non-genetic disorders.

Human bronchial epithelial cells were exposed to e-cigarette vapor from one to six hours, which resulted in “significant disruptions” of the protein processing in the cells. Further tests verified that even minimal exposure of one-hour created harmful changes. The team also confirmed its findings with tests on laboratory mice exposed to acute e-cigarette vapors.

The team’s e-cigarette findings in their study entitled “Airway exposure of e-cigarette-vapors impairs autophagy and induces aggresome-formation” were published in the April 2015 edition of The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.