Vapers Beware: E-Cig Users at Elevated Risk for Dangerous Bacterial Infection

While often touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, E-cigarettes weaken the immune systems, strengthen bacteria, and elevate the user's risk of developing MSRA and other serious infections.

What's the Latest?

E-cigarette vapor has been found to weaken the immune system and reduce the abilities of human cells to ward off dangerous bacterial infections, says Dr. Laura E. Crotty Alexander in an article published today by The Week. Even scarier, Dr. Alexander's research has found that vapers -- a name for e-cig smokers derived from the product's signature aerosol cloud -- may actually be strengthening harmful bacteria already entrenched within their bodies. The most notable example is MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a dangerous bacteria that infects 1 in 5 people. Exposure to cigarette smoke (and, as it turns out, e-cigarette vapor as well) causes MRSA cells to toughen and become resistant to the body's natural anti-biotics.

What's the Big Idea?

E-cigarettes are often marketed in a way that paints them as a responsible alternative to traditional cigarettes. Sales have boomed in recent years, especially among young people, fueled by the implication that inhaling e-cig vapor is mostly harmless. As Dr. Alexander's studies show, the ease by which one can inhale vapor means that users actually expose themselves to dramatically higher amounts of nicotine when smoking e-cigarettes. The myths that e-cigarettes curb your risk of developing nicotine addiction are simply that: myths.

It seems every few weeks a new study emerges and shines a light on unforeseen consequences of e-cigarette use. Vapor may very well be less dangerous than cigarette smoke, all things considered, but at the moment we just simply can't make that call. There's at least one thing Dr. Alexander is sure of: "e-cigarette vapor is not benign."

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Photo Credit: Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock

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