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E-cigarettes affect genes

According to recent studies, E-cigarettes increase risks for several infections and damage hundreds of genes that control the immune cells in the upper respiratory tract (throat, mouth, nose and sinuses). Actually the modern electronic devices which were created for helping quitting smoking, can be more dangerous than smoking itself.

Upper respiratory tract has very specific immune protection – epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract are able to protect body from external infections. Ordinary smoking usually reduces the immune ability of epithelial cells in throat, mouth, nose and sinuses. According to scientists, cigarette smoking reduces the expression of 53 genes that are important for the immune response of epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract. At the same time, E-cigarettes reduce the expression of 358 genes (including above mentioned 53 genes repressed by tobacco smoking). Actually E-cigarettes damage vital immune defense in respiratory system.

What is expression of gens? Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product (often proteins) – the biological substance which protect body from “attack” (infections, chemicals). Gene regulation gives the cell control over structure and function – it is the basis for cellular differentiation, morphogenesis and the versatility and adaptability of any organism.

Some scientists suggest that E-cigarettes could be responsible for lung cancer, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is only suggestion and scientific data is not enough for definite conclusions. But several studies show that the use of E-cigarettes is far from harmless.

“We honestly do not yet know what long term effects E-cigarettes might have on health. I suspect the effects of e-cigarettes will not be the same as the effects of cigarette smoking.”
Professor Ilona Jaspers, University of North Carolina.

E-cigarettes affect genes

According to medical publications, scientists from University of North Carolina studied three groups including 13 non-smokers, 14 smokers, and 12 users of electronic cigarettes. Similar tests were performed in all groups including tests for habits, tests for nicotine levels and additional tests for bio-markers that would indicate the condition of epithelial cells in respiratory system. After few weeks nasal samples were taken to check the expression of vital genes critical for immune responses.

Results of this study were shocking – E-cigarettes smoking worst affected genes responsible for the immune response, despite the fact that the average duration of E-smoking was significantly below of average duration of tobacco smokers.

It should be highlighted that for normal immune responses in the respiratory system all epithelial cells lining the throat, mouth, nose, sinuses and bronchioles must function properly for capturing and eliminating particles and microbes to be able to prevent any disease. Any damage of genes responsible for immune responses could trigger serious diseases.

“We know diseases like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cancer and emphysema usually take many years to develop in smokers. But people have not been using e-cigarettes for very long. So we don’t know yet how the effects of E-cigarette use might manifest in 10 – 15 years. We are at the beginning of cataloging and observing what may or may not be happening.”
Professor Ilona Jaspers, University of North Carolina.

No doubts that tobacco smoking is dangerous and could trigger several diseases including COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cancer, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, etc. But it is also shocking that E-cigarettes which supposed to help quitting smoking, are more dangerous than tobacco smoking. Actually the electronic cigarettes can cause a variety of biological changes in the genes and play a role in the development of respiratory problems and dangerous diseases.

Nowadays special attention is paid to influenza vaccine and this is why some scientists start new studies for checking the influence of E-smoking to the biological activities of influenza vaccines.

Future long-term studies will demonstrate all risks and damages observed in users of E-cigarettes.

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