One study in 2016 found about two-thirds of teens were using e-cigarettes for the “sweet and fruity flavors,” rather then the nicotine. We are barely into the new year and the latest study has found that the toxic chemicals in the flavorings are damaging to male fertility, even when nicotine is not present.
Two of the popular flavors, cinnamon and bubblegum, are raising fertility health concerns. Bubblegum flavoring has been found to kill “off cells in the testis which helps to produce sperm,” while cinnamon flavoring causes sperm to make “slower swimmers.” The lead author of the study said the study results were “shocking” and there was clearly a “detrimental effect” to the sperm.
The experiments were two-part, using healthy sperm of men undergoing IVF treatment and then using mice to see how they reacted to the flavorings. In the first part, samples were take from 30 men and the flavorings were “inserted into the sperm in concentrations” the men would be exposed to if they used the devices directly. In the second experiment, the mice were “exposed to the flavorings” and researchers found “cells in the testes were killed off by the chemicals in them.”
Male fertility is not the only health concern from using the e-cigarette flavorings. Another study, due to be published soon, found that certain flavorings increased the risk of lung damage. The nine flavorings – cherry, strawberry, ice-mint, menthol, tobacco, blueberry, vanilla, bubble-gum and butterscotch – were all found to be toxic on human bronchial cells. On a scale of bad to worse, the fruit flavors are at the lower end while “coffee, butterscotch and tobacco are the worst offenders.” “Cells did not recover after being exposed for more than 72 hours.”
Many of the flavors are considered food-grade, hence the ability of the industry to get around regulation. They are normally ingested into the stomach which is an acidic environment and the tissue is much different rather than inhaled into the sensitive membranes of the lungs. The researchers found that prolonged exposure to some of the flavors killed bronchial cells completely “especially the ingredients of the e-liquid which can change in structure after the process of heating.”
E-cigarettes have not been on the market long enough for researchers to determine all the hazards, and with 7,000 different flavors it may be years before all tests are conducted. The e-cigarette industry is promoting the devices as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, but they are not without their own harmful effects. It took decades for the public to learn the truth about smoking and cigarettes, it should not have to take that long for consumers to heed the warnings about e-cigarettes.
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