June 7 (UPI) -- New research shows vaping e-cigarettes may harm the ability to breathe, adding to the growing list of findings that point to negative effects of the habit.
When the nicotine vapor from e-cigarettes hit human airway cells in culture, it slowed the movement of mucus or phlegm in the area, according to a study published Friday in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. This is known as mucociliary dysfunction, which the researchers were able to observe in an experiment with sheep, which have similar airways to humans.
The study showed that nicotine vaping can dehydrate airway fluids, harms ciliary beat frequency and turns mucus into a gummy substance. This weakens the ability of bronchi, the lung's main airway, to defend the organ from infection.
Other conditions linked to mucociliary dysfunction asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis.
"This study grew out of our team's research on the influence of tobacco smoke on mucus clearance from the airways," Matthias Salathe, chair of internal medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center and study senior author, said in a news release. "The question was whether vape containing nicotine had negative effects on the ability to clear secretions from the airways similar to tobacco smoke."
The findings are consistent with another study that shows the e-cigarette flavorings used while vaping can damage the cilia in human airways, which can lower the ability to breathe.
"Vaping with nicotine is not harmless as commonly assumed by those who start vaping, at the very least, it increases the risk of chronic bronchitis." Salathe said. "Our study, along with others, might even question e-cigarettes as a harm reduction approach for current smokers with respect to chronic bronchitis/COPD."