The lesser of two evils: e-cigarette exposure weakens anti-bacterial and anti-viral defenses

During cold and flu season, many of us try to boost our immune system to resist getting sick. But if you smoke, you are at a greater risk of acquiring an infection and becoming ill. Both cigarette smoke and nicotine are known to suppress the body’s immune system, which contribute to smokers being more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by smoking are especially prone to lung infections.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are widely believed to be a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. While they undoubtedly cause less harm than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are still hazardous to your health. A team of researchers led by Prof. Shyam Biswal at Johns Hopkins University has shown that exposure to e-cigarettes impairs your body’s ability to fight off bacterial and viral infections.

To study the effects of e-cigarette vapor on immune responses, the researchers developed the first mouse model for e-cigarette exposure. They used a modified cigarette smoke machine that regularly puffed e-cigarette vapor into a small chamber. Mice were exposed to e-cigarette vapor in the chamber for one and a half hours twice per day for two weeks. Continue reading