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E-Cigarette smoke a trigger for asthma latest research suggests

 14th February 2017

Researchers from University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute WA have produced some surprising results about the effect of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarette) and asthma.

This research was funded by Asthma Foundation WA (AFWA) and was conducted by A/Prof Alexander Larcombe and A/Prof Ben Mullins as part of AFWA’s 2016 Project Grants.

Titled ‘Electronic cigarettes as a trigger for asthma’, A/ Prof Larcombe and Mullins research was ground breaking as to date no other research has considered the potential for e-cigarette use to exacerbate asthma symptoms or cause asthma flare-ups. Additionally no research has investigated what components of e-cigarette aerosol may be responsible for such exacerbations.

Their research showed that exposure to e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless, and can potentially result in significant health problems. A/ Prof Larcombe said that ‘we found that even very brief exposures can elicit inflammation in the lungs, and transient impairments in lung function. In certain instances, these impairments may be more severe in people with pre-existing asthma’. ‘Our data also suggested that the type of e-cigarette used (ie the ingredients of the “e-juice”) is critical in determining the severity of the response - indicating that certain types of e-cigarettes may potentially represent a safer nicotine delivery mechanism for asthmatics looking to quit smoking compared with other types of e-cigarettes’.

A/Prof Larcombe concluded that further study was required to explore these differences, as well as the mechanisms involved in determining e-cigarette induced effects. This would also provide medical practitioners with the information needed to make informed recommendations to their asthmatic patients and e-cigarette use.

One of the main roles of AFWA is to fund vital research on asthma and to date the not-for-profit community organisation has contributed over $5million to respiratory research.

All grant applications to AFWA are reviewed by their Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MASAC) whose members include clinicians, researchers and physicians. To review more detailed information about AFWA’s research program, please visit

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