Claim that vapour from e-cigarettes makes MRSA bacteria more aggressive

Claim made by: Laura E. Crotty Alexander
Location: The Conversation UK blog
Spotted on: 2014-05-19

Vapour from e-cigarettes makes antibiotic-resistant bacteria more dangerous.

Update 2014-10-31

"I wanted to know more about some research suggesting that vapour from e-cigarettes makes antibiotic-resistant bacteria more dangerous. The research was covered in several daily newspapers and on The Conversation UK blog, which said that the findings were presented to a conference and were from experiments in cells in a dish. So I asked the author whether it had been published, whether there was any evidence of harm in humans, and about the difference in effect on bacteria between tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapour.

The author, Dr Crotty from UCSD, replied promptly, saying, "The research is still in the preliminary stages, thus it has not been published. It did undergo peer-review to be accepted for presentation at the ATS conference (American Thoracic Society). I, of course, want to submit it to a journal ASAP."

Dr Crotty went on to say that, because the bacteria were exposed to tobacco vapour in a dish, "A more accurate statement is that the e-cigarette vapor that I tested significantly diminished the ability of human and mouse cells to kill bacteria..." She described the experiments in more detail: "MRSA exposed to e-cigarette vapor was also more aggressive, but not to the same degree.If cigarette smoke made MRSA 100% more successful at causing pneumonia, e-cigarette vapor only increased it 20%."

Although this last point is a nice way of expressing the relative harmfulness of tobacco cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapour, the harm was to the lungs of mice following exposure to vapour in a dish. The way the research was reported didn't really make this clear.

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