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Flavored E-Cigarette Liquid May Harm Lungs Even Without Nicotine, Study Suggests

Monday, February 12, 2018

By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health)

E-cigarette liquids sweetened with flavorings like vanilla and cinnamon may harm the lungs even when they don’t contain nicotine, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined what happened to monocytes, a type of white blood cell, upon exposure to flavoring chemicals used in popular e-cigarette liquids. None of the liquids contained nicotine, but the flavoring chemicals still appeared to increase biomarkers for inflammation and tissue damage, and many of them also caused cells to die.

Over time, this type of cell damage can lead to wide range of lung problems including fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and asthma, said senior study author Irfan Rahman, an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center in upstate New York.

“Nicotine-free e-liquids have generally been considered safe; however, the impact of flavoring chemicals, especially on immune cells, has not been widely researched,” Rahman said by email. “This study shows that even though flavoring compounds are considered safe for ingestion, it is not safe for inhalation.”

Read More: Flavored E-Cigarette Liquid May Harm Lungs Even Without Nicotine, Study Suggests

Irfan Rahman Appointed to Dean’s Professorship

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., has been named dean’s professor of Environmental Medicine by URMC CEO and SMD Dean Mark Taubman, M.D. Dean’s Professorships, the highest honor bestowed directly by the dean, recognize faculty members for excellence in research.

Rahman, a tenured professor of Environmental Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Public Health Sciences, and General Dentistry has over twenty years of experience studying lung disease. His early research uncovered the relationship between tobacco smoke and lung inflammation associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Irfan’s research is foundational to our understanding of how smoking tobacco affects our lungs and overall health, and now he is leading the field in investigating the possible health consequences of e-cigarettes,” said Taubman. “This type of cutting edge research is an asset to the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the University as a whole.”

E-cigs and water pipe/hookah smoking are often marketed as safer alternatives to tobacco smoking, but are poorly understood. Rahman has found that flavorings used in e-cigs and hookahs can damage cells in a dish and may prevent wound healing. Now, he is looking for associated signs of toxicity in the blood and urine of regular e-cig and hookah smokers.

Rahman is also constantly working to find ways to halt or reverse lung damage, which no current therapies can do. He hopes that his work to understand the intricacies of lung damage will uncover new drug targets and help develop drugs that can restore lungs to their former health.

“I sincerely appreciate the recognition of my academic contributions and research accomplishments,” saidRahman. “I am honored and happy to be a member of our Department of Environmental Medicine -and a part of the URSMD.”

Rahman has earned several honors and awards. In 2006 he was named Outstanding Senior Investigator by the Oxygen Society of California. More recently, he was awarded the Senior Toxicologist Award from the Association of Scientists of Indian Origins, Society of Toxicology. He has published 259 scientific papers, reviews, and book chapters and was listed as a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomas Reuters three years in a row, from 2014 through 2016.

Rahman received his doctoral degree from Nagpur University in India and trained as a postdoc at the University of Miami, Georgetown University, and Edinburgh University, where he later became assistant professor and lecturer. He joined the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2004.

Puff, puff, pass it up? E-cig flavors toxic, study finds

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

You've seen the clouds, maybe even blown a few yourself. Vaping is a part of American culture, like it or not.

If you do like it, you might want to take a look at this medical study.

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that e-cigarette flavors like butter and cinnamon, among others, contained harmful chemicals.

Read More: Puff, puff, pass it up? E-cig flavors toxic, study finds

E-Cigarette Flavors Are Toxic to White Blood Cells, Warn Scientists

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A new study led by the Rahman lab and first author, Toxicology post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Thivanka Muthumalage, adds to growing evidence on the harmful health effects of e-cigarettes. Currently, the article has been viewed over 16,500 times (in just one day) and several news sources have written articles and reported about it across the globe.

The paper has been so well received that it is currently ranked in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.

The study has revealed another potential health risk of e-cigarettes, finding that the chemicals used to flavour e-cigarette liquids are toxic to white blood cells. The study wanted to test the assumption that nicotine-free flavoured e-liquids are safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes, looking at what effect e-cigs might have on the immune system.

To do this the researchers directly exposed a type of white blood cell called monocytes, which help the body fight infection, to e-liquids. They found that e-cigarette flavoring chemicals and liquids can cause significant inflammation to monocytes, with many of the flavouring chemicals also causing significant cell death. Some flavours were found to be more harmful than others, with cinnamon, vanilla, and buttery flavours among the worst.

The researchers also found that mixing e-cigarette flavours has a much worse effect than exposure to just one flavour and caused the most toxicity to white blood cells.

The study's first author, Dr. Thivanka Muthumalage, commented on the findings, saying that although these flavouring compounds may be safe for ingestion, the results show they are not safe for inhalation and add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that e-cigarettes are harmful to health. Previous research has also found that the flavors used in e-cigarettes cause inflammatory and oxidative stress responses in lung cells.

Senior author Dr. Irfan Rahman expressed concern: “Our scientific findings show that e-liquid flavors can, and should, be regulated and that e-juice bottles must have a descriptive listing of all ingredients. We urge regulatory agencies to act to protect public health,” he said, also warning that, “alluring flavour names, such as candy, cake, cinnamon roll and mystery mix, attract young vapers.”

The team are now planning further research and are calling for further long-term human studies to understand better the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. The findings can be found published online in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

To learn more please read the following articles:

Dr. Thivanka Muthumalage To Present Research At SRNT and SOT

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Dr. Thivanka Muthumalage, a Toxicology Postdoc in the Rahman lab, has been selected for an oral/podium presentation for his abstract, "Cellular Toxicity and Reactive Oxygen Species Prodution by Commonly Used Flavoring Agents in E-Cigarette Liquids", at the 2018 Meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT). The Annual Meeting will be held February 21-24, 2018, at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Muthumalage's abstract, "Immuno-Toxicological Response in Monocytes to E-Cigarette Flavor Chemicals and E-Liquids" has also been selected as a Platform Presentation during the 57th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), March 11–15, 2018 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Congratulations Thivanka!

Melanie Prinz's Poster Selected for Presentation at NCUR 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Rahman lab undergrad, Melanie Prinz's poster abstract submission, "Reactive Oxygen Species Production by Commonly Used Flavoring Agents in E-Cigarette Liquids " was selected for presentation at NCUR 2018 at the University of Central Oklahoma. Chosen from more than 4,000 submissions, her abstract demonstrates a unique contribution to her field of study, and NCUR was glad to offer her the opportunity to present this work to her peers, faculty, and staff from all over the nation.

It’s impossible to separate a university and its community. They are connected by vision, by need, by goals. Together, they thrive. The National Conference on Undergraduate Research 2018 embraces this vital relationship in the conference theme, Connection to Place, recognizing the increasing need for direct relevance of an educational experience to the communities that await the college graduate in 2018 and beyond.

Congratulations Melanie!