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Vaping causes inflammation, study finds

Researchers at Ohio State University recently published a study on the effects of e-cigs and how vaping causes inflammation in the lungs.

Do you or does someone you know smoke e-cigarettes? Chances are, the answer is yes. Electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular. However, we don’t understand much about them.

E-cigarettes contain ingredients such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. These ingredients are commonly used in cosmetics and food products. They are generally regarded as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, what happens when these ingredients are heated and inhaled is unknown. In a recent study, researchers investigated these ingredients, specifically their effects on the lungs when using e-cigs.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute studied 30 never-smoker adults. The participants were randomly assigned to two groups, half of participants used e-cigs for four weeks and half did not. The e-cigs contained propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. They contained no nicotine or added flavors. A bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed to collect lung samples to measure inflammatory cells. During a BAL, a doctor inserts a tube down the nose and into the lungs, squirts some fluid, and collects it for examination.

The study reported no significant difference in inflammatory cells between those that smoked the e-cigs and those that did not. However, urinary propylene glycol samples were also collected. This was used to monitor compliance. The study found a relationship between urinary propylene glycol and lymphocyte count. Lymphocytes fight off infection in our body and are higher when inflammation is present. This study is the first to demonstrate the effect that vaping causes inflammation in the lungs among people who have never smoked.

The patients in the study were healthy individuals and age 21-30 years old. This is a benefit of the study since e-cigs are very popular in this group. However, this does not accurately reflect all users. Another limitation of the study was the participant size and length of the study. There were only 30 participants who used e-cigs for a period of four weeks.

Further studies are needed to validate these findings, in particular, longer-term studies are necessary to examine chronic effects. E-cigarettes have been at the forefront of medical news, making further research on this topic imperative on which to base future policy and practice.


Written by Kayla Dillon, B.S.



Song, M., et al. “Effects of Electronic Cigarette Constituents on the Human Lung: A Pilot Clinical Trial.” Cancer Prevention Research. 16 Oct 2019. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-19-0400.

“Pilot study shows even short-term ‘vaping’ causes inflammation in non-smokers.” EurekAlert!. 16 Oct 2019.


Image by Lindsay Fox from Pixabay



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