Supporters of vaping claim it is a way for smokers to quit and it is also a “lesser evil” than conventional cigarettes. But new research suggests vaping increases the level of DNA-damaging compounds. If cells cannot repair DNA damage the risk of cancer can increase, say scientists, Daily Telegraph says.
The study analysed the saliva and mouth cells of five e-cigarette users before and after a 15-minute vaping session. Researchers found increased levels of toxic chemicals formaldehyde, acrolein and methylglyoxal.
The long-term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown as they only became available in the UK in 2007.
Public Health England has claimed that vaping is “95 per cent” safer than smoking — but the figure has been widely criticised.
The Lancet medical journal said it was “extraordinarily flimsy” because it was based on the opinion of several experts — including some who had worked with e-cigarette companies.
The new US research comes after a panel of British MPs last week controversially called for vaping to be allowed on public transport and hospitals.
The nicotine found in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and has a series of effects on the body, including speeding up the heart rate and reducing the amount of insulin.
This can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
The researchers, from the University of Minnesota, now plan to follow up the preliminary study with a larger one involving more e-cigarette users. They also want to see how the level of toxic chemicals differs between e-cigarette users and regular cigarette smokers.
Lead researcher Assistant Professor Silvia Balbo said: “It’s clear that more carcinogens arise from the combustion of tobacco in regular cigarettes than from the vapour of e-cigarettes. However, we don’t really know the impact of inhaling the combination of compounds produced by this device. Just because the threats are different doesn’t mean that e-cigarettes are completely safe.
“Comparing e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes is really like comparing apples and oranges. The exposures are completely different. We still don’t know exactly what these e-cigarette devices are doing and what kinds of effects they may have on health, but our findings suggest that a closer look is warranted.”
His colleague Dr Romel Dator added: “E-cigarettes are a popular trend, but the long-term health effects are unknown. We want to characterise the chemicals that vapers are exposed to, as well as any DNA damage they may cause.”