As they are viewed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes smoking and massively advertised as such, electronic cigarettes gained popularity, especially over the last couple of years. Now, as vaping is more and more common among youngsters, in particular, the health experts worldwide became to worry about this trend because the long-term effects of e-cigs smoking remain unknown. However, a recent study says that e-cigarettes can cause DNA damage, increasing the concerns.
A group of researchers from the University of Minnesota decided to find out more about the potentially harmful effects of vaping and discovered that, indeed, smoking e-cigarettes modifies the DNA or the genetic material, in other words, of the oral cells, skyrocketing the risks of oral cancer.
“E-cigarettes are a popular trend, but the long-term health effects are unknown. We want to characterize the chemicals that vapers are exposed to, as well as any DNA damage they may cause,” said Romel Dator, Ph.D., and the study’s co-author.
E-cigarettes might cause DNA damage, increasing the risks of oral cancer in those who vape
E-cigs emerged in 2004 and, as they are coming out in different shapes and colors, and enjoying a vast array of liquid of different flavors and nicotine concentrations, they became trendy among youngsters. As 2016 report said, 37.7 percent of high school students and 35.8 percent of young adults, aged between 18 and 24, are vaping. Additionally, the majority of them considers e-cigs a safer alternative to regular smoking.
“It’s clear that more carcinogens arise from the combustion of tobacco in regular cigarettes than from the vapor of e-cigarettes. However, we don’t really know the impact of inhaling the combination of compounds produced by this device. That doesn’t mean that e-cigs are completely safe,” said Silvia Balbo, Ph.D., a researcher at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and the study’s leading author.
Researchers asked five e-cigs smokers to participate in the study and analyzed the subjects’ saliva before and after a 15-minute vaping session. The results revealed that the vapors inhaled by users contain formaldehyde, acrolein, and methylglyoxal, three of the most potent compounds that can cause DNA damage.
Even more, in the case of acrolein, which was found in significant amounts after vaping, this compound reacts with DNA, altering it and triggering DNA replication which can lead to cancer.