KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- All smoke and no fire is one reaction nicotine vape enthusiasts have for the recent spate of mysterious deaths and illnesses that have brought attention to vaping, as well as the black market and homemade recipes for vape juice with THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana.
So far, no single vaping product or ingredient has been linked to the illnesses, though most patients reported vaping THC.
But there is growing body of scientific evidence that commercially produced nicotine vaping products damage lung function. That includes an Australian university study in the peer-reviewed medical journal Respirology that was published Sunday.
A University of Kansas Medical Center researcher has been using a robot to test the vapor from several standard nicotine products on healthy human cells from organ donors.
“The robot takes the vapor out of that device and pushes it over the cells,” Dr. Matthias Salathe, a Kansas University Medical Center Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine said. “We see inflammation that is similar to tobacco and cigarettes and we see the inability of these cells to clear mucus.”
The study tested three different apple-flavored vape juices and determined the vapor kills the cells that line the airway. Dr. Salathe says the study is valuable because it’s a different setting showing the same result. He adds that those results have come not just in a petri dish. Studies in sheep show the same lung inflammation and congestion.
Dr. Salathe says so far, it appears e-cigarette vapor alone does not have as many toxins as cigarette smoke does, but it’s not yet clear what level of toxins are necessary to cause cancer. What’s clear, he says, is that this is further evidence that lung function could be a problem in the long-term.
Dr. Salathe says we won’t know for decades whether it’s worse than, better than, or the same as smoking in that regard, since that’s when we will see whether or not people who vape develop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.
Medical experts say if you vape and feel tight chested or just “not right,” see your primary care physician as soon as possible.