Leonardo DiCaprio, model magnet and environmental activist saving the world one e-cig at a time will regret to learn that electronic cigarettes are just as harmful as first thought. Although it won’t be as big a blow as all those times he learned he didn’t win an Oscar.

The American Physiological Society just released a study about e-cigs, which are now more popular than regular cigarettes among today’s cool tweens and teens, so says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study supports previous research that any form of nicotine (found in some e-cig solutions) harms the lungs, but also that nicotine free e-cig solutions also effect the lungs.

Lung inflammation and injury may be caused by the breakdown of lung endothelial cells, cells that make up the lungs lining, but researchers said they didn’t know what part of cigarette smoke caused lung cells to breakdown:

“We investigated if nicotine, one of the hundreds of molecules present in [cigarette smoke] extracts, is sufficient to alter lung endothelial barrier function by affecting cytoskeletal regulation” (the internal design for cell shape and function).

A study on the effects of cigarette smoke and e-cig solutions led researchers to conclude: 

“Nicotine has dose-dependent deleterious pulmonary effects that result in loss of lung endothelial barrier function, acute lung inflammation and decreased lung endothelial cell proliferation,” citing the effects of nicotine they saw in cigarette smoke and in nicotine having e-cig solutions when tested on human cells and mice cells. However, researchers also found nicotine free e-cigs had “lung-harming substances” like acrolein, present in both e-cig solution and vapor, which also damages the lung’s endothelial cells.

Lead researcher of the study, Irina Petrache, PHD, said, 

“The increased use of inhaled nicotine via e-cigarettes, especially among the youth, prompts increased research into the effects on health. This research reports that components found in commercially available e-cigarette solutions and vapors generated by heating them may cause lung inflammation. The effects described characterize short-term effects of e-cig exposures. Whereas studies of long-term effects await further investigations, these results caution that e-cigarette inhalation may be associated with adverse effects on lung health.”

In conclusion: don't smoke up, your lungs will thank you for it. 

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[via American Physiological Society]