New York: The electronic cigarettes marketed as a safer alternative to the real thing produce immediate changes in users` airways, a small study suggests.Researchers in Greece saw changes in the lung function of healthy smokers who puffed on an e-cigarette for just five minutes -- although it`s not clear what the long-term result of those responses might be in regular e-cigarette users, the team reports in the journal Chest."E-cigarettes" are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale a vaporized liquid nicotine solution instead of tobacco smoke. They were designed as a way for smokers to get their nicotine fix without exposing themselves, or other people, to the toxins in tobacco smoke.But some scientists, including officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warn that too many questions remain about the safety of these products."This is the first evidence that just one (e-cigarette) use can have acute physiologic effects," said lead researcher Constantine I. Vardavas, of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health.For the new study, Vardavas and colleagues in Athens had 30 healthy smokers puff on an e-cigarette to see how it affected their airways.The researchers found that after five minutes, users showed signs of airway constriction -- as measured by several types of breathing tests -- and of inflammation.It is not known whether that short-term response could translate into health effects in the long run, including lung diseases like emphysema."More studies on the long-term effects are needed," Vardavas said.But, he noted, if e-cigarettes trigger airway effects after just a few minutes, that raises concerns about repeated use of the products over time."There are claims that e-cigarettes have no health effects," Vardavas said. "But that`s not correct."An industry spokesperson defended the products."This is a product that eliminates second-hand and third-hand smoke," said Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.
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