Un estudio descubre que los cigarrillos electrónicos podrían estar contaminados con toxinas microbianas

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Los fans de los cigarrillos electrónicos están empezando a acostumbrarse a escuchar malas noticias sobre los químicos que contienen sus productos. Un nuevo estudio publicado este miércoles añade otro riesgo potencial a la lista. Sugiere que muchos cartuchos y líquidos para cigarrillos electrónicos están contaminados con toxinas provenientes de bacterias y hongos.

Obviamente que el humo de los cigarrillos de tabaco tradicionales está lleno de toxinas. Pero algunas de estas toxinas no se crean al quemar el tabaco en sí, sino que provienen de bacterias y hongos muertos que contaminan los productos en algún punto durante el proceso de producción. Se trata de endotoxinas, que se encuentran dentro de las bacterias gramnegativas, y glucanos, que ayudan a formar las paredes celulares de muchas especies de hongos.

Se han relacionado problemas respiratorios como la inflamación pulmonar o los brotes de asma con la inhalación de endotoxinas y glucanos (ya sea a través del humo del cigarrillo u otras formas de exposición, como trabajar en una fábrica textil). Pero según los autores de este estudio, publicado en Environmental Health Perspectives, nunca se han realizado investigaciones que analicen cómo de comunes pueden ser estas toxinas microbianas en los productos para cigarrillos electrónicos.

Este grupo de investigadores de Harvard probó 75 productos individuales de 10 de las principales marcas en este momento. Compraron todos los productos por Internet, excepto los de una marca, que lo compraron en una tienda cercana al campus. En total, 38 cartuchos (dispositivos de un solo uso) y 37 líquidos, que se utilizan para rellenar ciertos cigarrillos electrónicos, de distintos sabores

Encontraron que el 23 por ciento tenía niveles detectables de endotoxinas, mientras que el 81 por ciento contenía algo de glucano. En promedio, los cartuchos tenían tres veces más glucano que los líquidos. Los productos con sabor a tabaco y mentol tenían niveles de glucano que eran 10 veces más altos que la media, mientras que los niveles de endotoxinas fueron ligeramente más altos en los productos con sabor a fruta.

Los hallazgos, dicen los autores, indican que “algunas marcas y sabores populares de cigarrillos electrónicos pueden estar contaminados con toxinas microbianas”.

Por muy peligroso que suene, hay que hacer algunas puntualizaciones importantes sobre estos hallazgos.

Una limitación es que no comprobaron los niveles de toxinas que realmente terminan en el aerosol que producen estos productos, y que es lo que los usuarios acaban respirando. También probaron dispositivos de primera generación, no los más nuevos que hay ahora, como cápsulas o tanques. Las cápsulas, en concreto, ahora proporcionan aún más nicotina por inhalación mediante un método diferente, pero no se sabe cómo eso podría afectar al nivel de exposición a estas toxinas. Sabemos que, por lo general, las personas se exponen a una cantidad significativamente menor de toxinas ambientales causadas por el vapeo que por fumar un cigarrillo de tabaco (aunque esto no significa que los cigarrillos electrónicos sean completamente inocuos).

Incluso los autores admiten que no existe una evidencia científica clara en estos momentos que apoye “una hipótesis de que los niveles actuales de endotoxina y glucano observados en los cigarrillos electrónicos supongan problemas de salud”.

Aún así, las endotoxinas y el glucano en el aire en niveles suficientemente altos pueden afectar los pulmones, y se cree que juegan un papel muy importante en por qué el humo del cigarrillo es tan perjudicial para nuestra respiración. Por lo menos, merece la pena estudiar con qué frecuencia se pueden encontrar estas toxinas en los productos de cigarrillos electrónicos y vapeadores, y si la exposición crónica a través del vapeo puede representar un riesgo para la salud.

“Se necesitan investigaciones adicionales para confirmar nuestros hallazgos y evaluar la posible exposición y los efectos en la salud en los que utilizan cigarrillos electrónicos”, escribieron los autores.

Fuente: Es.gizmodo.com

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