Menthol cigarettes, which provide a cool sensation in the mouth, have been found to cause more severe lung damage than regular cigarettes. This research was recently published in the international academic journal, “Respiratory Research.”
According to a team of researchers led by Dr. Cambez Vennam from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, adding menthol to liquid for e-cigarettes significantly impairs lung function in smokers. To examine the effect of menthol on the lungs, the team developed a “vaping robot” that reproduces the human respiratory structure. They then precisely simulated the temperature, humidity, inhalation amount, and inhalation time of the liquid when a person smokes an e-cigarette.
Long-chip technology was used to examine the impact on the lungs. This technology involves culturing cells that make up specific organs on chips containing electronic circuits, thus precisely replicating the structure and characteristics of a human organ. This technology is primarily used for toxicity testing.
As a result, the researchers found that more toxic nanoparticles were generated during the process of creating vapor from liquid using an electronic device. Furthermore, an examination of medical records of e-cigarette smokers revealed that the effects of menthol were independent of age, gender, race, and smoking period. Menthol reduces lung function and makes smokers take shallower breaths.
The researchers emphasized that “this study does not mean that liquid without menthol is safe.” They also explained that “toxic nanoparticles generated by vitamin E acetate added to e-cigarette liquid, another hazardous substance to lung damage, are embedded in the inner wall of the lungs like a wedge, just like menthol and vitamin E acetate.”
Meanwhile, menthol cigarettes, which mask the harsh taste of tobacco, are divisive among smokers, and some call for social regulation, especially to prevent minors from taking up smoking. A study published in the medical journal, JAMA Network Open, last year also suggested that adding menthol to cigarettes increases smoking frequency and nicotine dependence among teenagers.
Experts warned that menthol-flavored cigarettes mask the bitter taste of nicotine, making smoking less unpleasant. Furthermore, the cool sensation they provide makes smokers less likely to feel irritation in the bronchial tubes, making them more vulnerable to this temptation.