E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

New Study Claims E-Cigs May Strengthen Life-Threatening Bacteria

E-cigarettes are gateway to smoking, they contain dangerous chemicals, they are potentially deadlier than analogs. These are the same old arguments electronic cigarette opponents always use when trying to make their case. But, now, they finally have some new material to work with. According to a new study conducted by researchers at VA San Diego Healthcare System and UC San Diego, e-cigarette vapor may make the MRSA bacteria even harder to treat.

electronic-cigarettesLaura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, and her colleagues investigated how electronic cigarette vapor affects live methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and human epithelial cells, which line most internal organs and are the major tissues of glands. MRSA is resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat other staph infections and often colonizes cells in the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat, behind the nose, an area vapers obviously expose to vapor.

After the team of researchers cultivated a strain of MSRA in a culture that contained vapor concentrations similar to those created by e-cigarettes, they proceeded the factors that can make the bacteria stronger – growth rate, surface charge, susceptibility to reactive oxygen species (a variety of molecules and free radicals derived from molecular oxygen), hydrophobicity (a characteristic of repelling or not combining with water) and biofilm formation (when communities of microorganisms attached to a surface).

The results showed changes in surface charge and biofilm formation which make MSRA significantly harder to kill by antibiotics and human cells.

“As health care professionals, we are always being asked by patients, ‘Would this be better for me?’” Dr. Crotty Alexander wrote in a press release. “In the case of smoking e-cigarettes, I hated not having an answer. While the answer isn’t black and white, our study suggests a response: even if e-cigarettes may not be as bad as tobacco, they still have measurable detrimental effects on health.”

The danger of MSRA is very real, and if e-cigarettes are actually making it stronger, it should really worry any vaper, but I personally am more worried about how the mainstream media chose to report on this topic. Virtually every news website that covered this study put ‘electronic cigarettes’ or ‘e-cigarettes’ in their headlines without even mentioning tobacco cigarettes, even though Dr. Crotty Alexander clearly states that her research found cigarette smoke increases MSRA virulence even more than e-cig vapor. Most articles simply mention this important fact in the last lines, as if it were just an unimportant detail.

In a mouse study conducted by the researchers, the survival rate of MSRA was four times greater in lungs exposed to cigarette smoke and three times greater in lungs exposed to e-cigarette vapor, compared to lungs not exposed to either smoke nor vapor.

Why isn’t the media reporting that cigarette smoke is actually the biggest threat in relation to MSRA, considering both the increased effect it has on the bacteria and the number of smokers compared to vapers? The effect of e-cigarette vapor is also very concerning, but the media is making it seem like the most dangerous, which is simply not true.

If you can quit smoking without using electronic cigarettes, that’s great, but by using defamatory headlines like these, the media is making it look like e-cigarette vapor is the only one strengthening MSRA and making smokers feel safe, when they are actually the most exposed to the risk. Does that seem like ethical journalism to you?

Photo credit: Glenn Daltrey

Sources: Daily Mail, Business Standard, TIME

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