E-cigarettes are not as healthy as some people think they are, according to a new study.
Scientists have suggested vapour from e-cigs could harm lung cells and the effects could be similar to those seen in cigarette smokers.
The vapour could apparently lessen the effect of alveolar macrophages cells, which remove dust particles, bacteria and allergens.
Professor David Thickett, lead author from the University of Birmingham, said: ‘I don’t believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes.
‘But we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe.’
Researchers mimicked vaping in the laboratory, testing the effect of e-cigarette vapour condensate on alveolar macrophages extracted from the lung tissue samples of eight non-smokers.
The condensate was found to be more harmful to the cells than plain e-cigarette fluid, and the effects worsened as the ‘dose’ was increased.
They admitted more data needed to be taken to understand the full effects of vapour exposure but stressed e-cigs were safer in terms of cancer risk.
Professor Thickett added: ‘In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens.
‘They are safer in terms of cancer risk, but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD, then that’s something we need to know about.’
Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘The harsh truth is that smoking kills, and smokers who switch completely to electronic cigarettes are likely to substantially reduce the likelihood of premature death and disability.’
The study was published in journal Thorax.