E-Cigarettes Shown To Cause Cellular Harm

A lab investigation at the VA San Diego Healthcare System examined two variations of e-cigarettes to determine safety. Both nicotine and nicotine-free version were tested and found to be damaging to human cells.

E-cigarettes are often thought to be a safe and are often used as an alternative to smoking. The Food and Drug Administration in the Unites States doesn’t regulate e-cigarettes the same way that other tobacco products are regulated, and much is unknown about the contents and effects of vapor chemicals.

To date, there has not been clear research and findings as to the safety and possible damage to human cells. Researcher Dr. Jessica Wang-Rodriguez out of the University of California put together a team to test the effects of vapor products. Extracts of two popular vapor products were use to treat human cells in Petri dishes, and were compared to untreated cells. Results showed that the treated cells were more likely to show DNA damage and experience cellular death when compared to non-treated cells. DNA damage included DNA strand breaks, which can lead to problems with cellular repair. When this occurs it can set the stage for cancer cells to develop.

Out of the two products, nicotine containing vapors were more damaging, however nicotine-free products still were damaging enough to alter cells. Other contents of the vapor liquids shown to be harmful are formaldehyde and flavoring agents. These both have been shown to linked to increase risk of cancers and lung disease.

Although these studies were done in Petri dishes, the findings are still concerning. Further research is warranted to study the effects in humans. E-cigarettes may not be as safe as is being marketed to us, and further studies should aim to identify components and their safety for human use.

Vicky Yu, Mehran Rahimy, Avinaash Korrapati, Yinan Xuan, Angela E. Zou, Aswini R. Krishnan, Tzuhan Tsui, Joseph A. Aguilera, Sunil Advani, Laura E. Crotty Alexander, Kevin T. Brumund, Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, Weg M. Ongkeko. Electronic cigarettes induce DNA strand breaks and cell death independently of nicotine in cell lines. Oral Oncology, 2016; 52: 58 DOI: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2015.10.018

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