By Levin Simes
October 22, 2018

Mice Study: Lung Damage and Lung Inflammation From Vaping Worse Than Smoking

Lung Damage From Vaping in Mice

The e-cigarette industry adamantly promotes vaping as a safe alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.   Not true, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.  The study used mice to compare the relative damage to lungs when exposed to regular cigarettes, e-juice with and without nicotine, and e-juice with both nicotine and flavor-adding chemicals.  The study found significant signs of increasing lung damage in mice exposed to e-juice, especially those where e-juice was flavored.

Does Vaping Cause Lung Inflammation?

Yes, vaping does cause lung inflammation, and multiple research articles and studies have shown that vaping increases inflammation in lung tissue.

Lung inflammation can be studied by testing the amount of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), Muc5ac production, lung oxidative stress markers and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR).  This study evaluated each of these in the mice and the results showed vaping of all types was associated with increased lung and cell inflammation.  The study found mice who vaped had increased levels of each of these lung damage markers:

  • BALF: Used to evaluate toxic induced alterations and cellular damage in lungs
  • Muc5ac: Measure of mucus hypersecretion in the lungs that is linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Oxidative Stress: Lung oxidative stress that is linked to cancer, COPD and asthma in humans and animals.
  • AHR: Used to measure how easily bronchospasms are triggered. The hallmark condition associated with asthma, also occurs with COPD.

What Does Vaping Do to Your Lungs?

Vaping causes lung damage that can be measured by multiple different tests that detect changes to lung tissue and pulmonary response.  Even a short history of vaping has shown to cause physical and cellular changes associated with asthma, COPD, and lung cancer.

Does Vaping Cause Lung Inflammation? Mice exposed to e-juice vapor show lung damage.

Does Vaping Affect Your Heart?

A recent article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed vape users suffered heart attacks at nearly double the rate of non-smokers. Vaping was associated with an increase in heart attacks by 79%.

Vape Injury Heart Attack Myocardial Infarction
Vaping Doubles Risk of Heart Attacks vs Non-Smokers

What is Popcorn Lung and is it Caused by Vaping?

“Popcorn Lung” is a condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans or constrictive bronchitis.  Some flavored e-liquids contain diacetyl, the chemical used in popcorn and caramel products to promote a “buttery” flavor.  E-juice manufacturers are putting this chemical into e-liquids, which in turn are vaporized and inhaled by customers.

As reported by the American Lung Association, chemicals like diacetyl in vapor can cause bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung” in vape users.

Does Vaping Leave Water in Your Lungs?

There have been reports of “wet lung” (fluid building in the lungs) among vape smokers.  Your lungs normally do not get permanently wet or fill with fluid merely by inhaling vaporized water (such as fog).

However, vaping causes inflammation of lung tissue. Acute inflammation, including from hypersensitivity to the chemicals found in flavored e-juice, can result in difficulty breathing, scarring of the lungs, and even respiratory failure. One teen vaper used a new e-cig device for only a couple weeks before developing hypersensitivity pneumonitis, fluid build-up in and around her lungs, and respiratory failure.

Is Vaping Better for You Than Smoking Cigarettes?

Traditional cigarettes contain many carcinogenic elements, and vaping is advertised to reduce or eliminate the load of carcinogens that a person inhales. However, new types of carcinogens found in vapor, added flavoring chemicals, and the difference in volume of vapor versus cigarettes, all make the claims of improved safety of vaping questionable.  The negative short-term health effects of vaping have already been established by medical studies and research, and this study was designed to test inflammation that can lead to disease formation in the long-term.

A study comparing the effects of vaping and traditional cigarettes over a 4-week period showed similar levels of two forms of inflammation and cellular damage (lung MDA oxidative stress and BALF macrophage cellularity). Vaping, however, showed higher levels of BALF protein content, BALF MDA oxidative stress, BALF protein carbonyls oxidative stress, BALF protein content, and four times the change in Muc5ac – an indicator in COPD.

A comparison of cell damage and inflammation markers in the study, for clean air, cigarette smoke and flavored vapor.

Is vaping less harmful than smoking? Vape lung inflammation sometimes worse than cigarettes

Is Vaping Without Nicotine Bad For Your Lungs?

Yes, cellular changes and lung inflammation occurred in the mice even when exposed to e-juice vapor free of nicotine and flavoring. This study showed mice who vaped with propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG) still had evidence of increased BALF cellularity, protein content, and Muc5ac scores.  Other studies have found the vapor to contain nitrosamines and diethylene glycol – both of which are carcinogenic.  Carcinogens are elements that cause cancer in the human body.

Vape Lawyer

Levin Simes specializes in injuries from vaping, including vaping device explosions and vape battery explosions.  We are investigating new claims of failed devices or batteries, Juul addiction in minors due to illegal advertising, and hidden risks and chemical exposure from e-juice. If you have been injured please contact us for a free consultation at or (415) 426-3000.

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