'Vaping' can cause lung damage say Manchester boffins

'Vaping' can cause lung damage say Manchester boffins Credit: MEN SYNDICATION

Tens of thousands of electronic cigarette users are at risk of chronic lung disease, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Manchester.

Experts say that using e-cigs or “vaping” can cause the same debilitating conditions as smoking normal cigarettes.

They claim the study, which is the first of its kind, shows that chemicals found in the e-cig vapour have been known to lead to conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Dr Andrew Higham from The University of Manchester says it contains formaldehyde and acrolein – similar to traditional cigarettes – which could be harmful if taken over the long term.

In research published in the open access journal Respiratory Research, Dr Higham examined the effect of e-cig exposure on human white blood cells taken from 10 non-smokers.

The study was funded by the North West Lung Centre, which is based at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM).

It was carried out at Wythenshawe Hospital, and the University’s Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, where three brands of e-cigarette were investigated.

Scientists noticed a raised activity of the white blood cells following exposure to the vapour, similar to that observed in the presence of traditional cigarettes.

It is also a characteristic of the debilitating lung condition Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, an illness commonly found in smokers.

The University’s research is expected to fuel the debate on the safety of e-cigarettes.

Dr Higham says the results raise concerns over the safety of e-cig use.

He said: “Our research shows quite clearly that there are risks associated with long-term use of these devices in terms of pulmonary inflammation.

“There has been a lot of public discussion on e-cigarettes. But we think that the public needs to be aware of the potential harm these devices may cause which will empower users to make informed decisions.”

There are an estimated three million users of electronic cigarettes in the UK.

They are often used as an alternative to traditional cigarettes to avoid the unwanted health effects.