APR 04, 2024 2:25 PM PDT

Vaping Additive 'Vitamin E' May Inhibit Lung Function

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

New research indicates that vaping additive, vitamin E, inhibits lung function. The findings come from a larger project aiming to investigate the components of vaping solutions that deliver nicotine or cannabinoids to users. The corresponding study was published in Langmuir.

The percentage of Americans who report smoking cigarettes has been declining in recent years. In the meantime, however, use of vaping has been increasing- and especially among young adults. A Gallop reported that around 13% of adults under 50 years old in the US used e-cigarettes in 2022. 

While much is known about the health risks of smoking tobacco, less is known about risks linked to vaping. In the current study, researchers investigated how tocopherol- also known as vitamin E- and tocopherol acetate affect the lungs. 

When heated and inhaled, vitamin E embeds in the pulmonary surfactant, a nanoscopically thin lipid-protein membrane that coats the surface of the lung's alveoli. Alveoli are tiny air sacs in the lungs where the lungs and blood exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide during the process of inhaling and exhaling. 

In the study, the researchers used techniques including microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and X-ray reflectivity to investigate the effects of vitamin E on one-molecule-thick model membranes that simulate the expansion and compression of the pulmonary surfactant. 

“We can see that the presence of vitamin E changes the functional properties of the surfactant,” study author Prof Christine DeWolf of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Concordia University.

“Oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide across the pulmonary surfactant, so if the surfactant properties are altered, so can be the ability for gas to be exchanged. And if the surface tension is changed, that affects the work of breathing. So combined, these changes make breathing more difficult. We think this is the molecular basis contributing to the shortness of breath and reduced oxygen levels seen in people suffering from electronic cigarette or vaping product use–associated lung injury (EVALI)," she said. 

DeWolf noted that many of the components in vaping solutions have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for other uses. She noted, however, that the high heating rates needed to vaporize them may cause further chemical reactions to occur, meaning consumers may inhale compounds beyond the ingredient list of original e-liquids. 

The researchers hope that their work will be used to educate regulatory bodies about the risks posed by certain carrying agents, and whether additives can inhibit lung function. 


Sources: EurekAlertLangmuir

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets.
You May Also Like
Loading Comments...