A former Maghera man has been taking part in research into the effects on the lungs and body of smoking e-cigarettes.
Dr Aaron Scott, along with a team from Birmingham University, found during studies that vapourised e-liquid fluid has a similar effect on the body to those seen in regular cigarette smokers and patients with chronic lung disease.
A lecturer in Respiratory Science at Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, Dr Scott is a former pupil of Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt.
He has given numerous interviews on TV and radio since the research was published.
He said: “Several previous studies have examined the effects of unvaped e-cigarette liquid however, it is well established that the vapourising process changes the chemical composition of the liquid.
“The use of vaped liquid in our study makes this a better reflection of the exposure of the user, allowing us to examine whether e-cigarettes have a negative impact on the viability and function of cells called alveolar macrophages, which are key to the immune response within the airways.
“Our work clearly shows that vapourised e-cigarette fluid is toxic to living cells; increases the production of inflammatory chemicals; and inhibits the function of cells that are key to the immune system.
“Importantly, we found that exposure of these cells to e-cigarette vapour induced many of the same cellular and functional changes in function seen in cigarette smokers and patients with COPD.
“While further research is needed to fully understand the effects of e-cigarette exposure in humans in vivo, we suggest continued caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe.”
The researchers concluded that the vaping process itself can damage vital immune system cells, at least under laboratory conditions.
The first commercially successful E-cigarette was created in China by Hon Lik, a 52-year-old pharmacist, in 2003, after his father - a heavy smoker - died of lung cancer.