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E-cigarette use prompts safety concern over damaged airways

February 21, 2019 - 3:00 am
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KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There is growing concern that the use of electronic cigarettes is increasing among adults, with many thinking they are safe. 

The reality is that the nicotine is just as addicting, and the long-term effects are just as damaging. 

Now, there is news that there may be other issues that are associated with e-cigarettes that are not even found in traditional cigarettes. According to a journal in Scientific Reports, two chemicals widely used to flavor e-cigarettes could be inhibiting the function of cilia in the human airway. 

Cilia are present in half of the cells that human airways have, and they play a very important role in keeping the airway clear of mucus and dirt, allowing people to get rid of debris without irritation. 

A chemical called diacetyl, commonly used as a flavor in foods, can be dangerous when inhaled. According to the researchers, e-cigarette users are heating and inhaling the flavoring chemicals, which were never tested for inhalation safety — essentially human guinea pigs.