Vaping damages DNA, may increase cancer & heart disease risk

Vaping and e-cigarettes have gained considerable popularity as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes

The team from New York University exposed mice and human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette smoke and found DNA changes that were similar to those observed with secondhand smoke.

Researchers subjected cultured human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette vapor which is created to avoid the carcinogenic byproducts of tobacco. According to the chemists, the damage caused by vaping increased as a person took more puffs of an e-cigarette. Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, believes that these results add nothing new to the debate on e-cigs and health. "The best current estimate is that vaping poses, at worst, some 5% of risks of smoking".

Battery-powered e-cigs have been widely promoted as a safer alternative to cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco - but scientists now warn the nicotine in them is far from harmless.

Recent studies have shown that e-cig users have 97 per cent less of a lung cancer-causing component known as NNAL in their bodies than tobacco smokers.

Typically, an e-cigarette is filled with chemicals like propylene glycol, glycerine, nicotine, and flavorings such as menthol or mint. Participants tended to go longer in the morning before having a vape, they reduced to e-liquids with less nicotine over time and some vaped only zero nicotine e-liquids. It also retarded DNA fix functions and proteins in the lungs.

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The data, based on mouse experiments and experiments with human cells, suggests that nicotine itself might cause cancer, and that vaping carries a cancer risk. Instead they contain nicotine, which is what keeps people addicted, but is not responsible for the major health harms from smoking.

The report also said that the potential dangers and benefits of vaping e-cigarettes may depend on the user's age. Research like this is important, but this lab study only looked at the effects of e-cigarette smoke on cells and on mice, which means it's not possible to draw any conclusions from this about how e-cigarettes might affect people in real life. Kadimisetty said, "I never expected the DNA damage from e-cigarettes to be equal to tobacco cigarettes".

"Research in people has shown that those who make a complete switch from smoking tobacco to e-cigarettes can significantly reduce their exposure to key harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke".

A leading tobacco company, Philip Morris, had recently wanted to market a new e-cigarette device, IQOS, as a healthier option but the Food and Drug Administration rejected that idea a few days ago.

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