eCig2More evidence is emerging that using electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) may be harmful to your health. 

A recently published National Jewish Health study reports that the liquid used in e-cigarettes has been linked to an increased risk of respiratory viral infections. 

Researchers tested the impact the liquid or vapors from e-cigarettes had on the cells of young, healthy nonsmokers. They discovered e-cigarette use damaged the cells in the airways that serve as the first line of defense against anything harmful that is inhaled.

“The cells showed a strong pro-inflammatory response within minutes and the risk of viral infection in those cells rose significantly,” says Hong Wei Chu, MD, leader of the study.

E-cigarette usage has seen a dramatic increase in the last four years, including among children and teenagers. More research is needed to determine potential health effects, particularly for those with asthma and allergies. Several studies show e-cigarettes produce pollutants in the air that can be inhaled secondhand.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn nicotine and other products into a vapor, which is then inhaled. They mimic traditional cigarettes with a glowing light at the tip and come in a variety of flavors, such as menthol to appeal to traditional smokers and bubblegum or cherry to appeal to young people.

“When you flavor them in that way, not only are they more appealing but young people might falsely assume they are safe to use,” says David Tinkelman, MD, medical director of health initiatives at National Jewish Health.