E-cigarettes are often marketed as being a safer alternative to tobacco products. However, a new study has shown that some of the flavours found in the vapour could be almost as harmful as smoking regular cigarettes. In the study, it was found that cinnamon flavoured vapour in particular could have chemicals that damage the lungs. According to the researchers, the chemicals found in cinnamon flavouring, that are essential in order to give it the smell and taste, have a similar effect on the lungs as the toxins that are found in cigarette smoke.
As part of the new research, scientists in the US based study carried out a range of tests. These tests were designed to see what effect different flavoured e-liquids have on the lungs. They exposed the cells in human airways to cinnamon flavoured liquid and spray from a commonly used brand of e-cigarette. It was found that the chemical used, cinnamaldehyde, impaired the movement of bronchial cells, which are essential for clearing the body of mucus, dirt, viruses and bacteria. This is similar to the way in which reactive aldehyde chemicals, which are found in cigarette and tobacco smoke, cause lung inflammation and an increased risk of bacterial and viral infections.
When commenting on the new research, lead scientist Dr Phillip Clapp, from the University of North Carolina, said: “Our data suggest that when used in e-cigarettes cinnamaldehyde, like toxic aldehydes in cigarette smoke, significantly disrupts normal cell physiology in ways that may have implications for the development and exacerbation of respiratory disease. Our finding that cinnamaldehyde impairs normal airway cilia motility is significant because it demonstrates that a common, food-safe flavouring agent, in the context of e-cigarette use, is capable of dysregulating a critical anti-bacterial defence system in the lungs.”
Dr Clapp added that many of the flavouring agents contain aldehydes that are similar in structure to some of the compounds found in tobacco. He said: “E-cigarette emissions contain chemicals that have not been evaluated for inhalation toxicities. The inhalation of flavouring agents, which are frequently reactive aldehydes, poses a significant unknown in regards to the potential health risks of e-cigarette use.” He added that these flavouring agents were often found in “exceedingly high concentrations” in e-cigarette liquid