E-cigarettes could raise risk of cancer and heart disease, warn scientists

Jan 31, 2018, 07:32
E-cigarettes could raise risk of cancer and heart disease, warn scientists

In experiments on mice, Moon-Shong Tang, from New York University School of Medicine, and colleagues saw damage to the DNA and its ability to fix itself that elevate the risk of mutation and cancer development.

In laboratory tests, mice exposed to e-cigarette smoke had higher levels of DNA damage in the heart, lungs and bladder than those breathing normal filtered air. However, the results of this study may take several years to determine.

"This is one in a long line of false alarms which may be putting people off the switch from smoking to vaping which would undoubtedly be of great benefit to them", he added.

The main cancer risk with tobacco cigarettes is caused by the release of a number of carcinogenic compounds when they are burned and inhaled. 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.

At the same time, the report also found that their use among younger people increased the risk of them taking up conventional smoking when they're older.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals and at least 70 are known either to cause or drive cancer in the body.

This is avoided in e-cigarettes, with nicotine delivered through aerosols without burning tobacco.

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The researchers also exposed cultured human bladder and lung cells to nicotine and found the same effects they have observed in experiments involving mice. A study in mice, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is sure to provide fodder for both sides. It also retarded DNA fix functions and proteins in the lungs.

That is similar to the level in those on nicotine-replacement therapy. The findings of the study by itself are neither conclusive.

They pointed out that e-cigarettes were rapidly gaining popularity, especially among young people who regard them as harmless.

In 2016, the FDA finalized a rule extending its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, as well as hookah and pipe tobacco, as part of its goal to improve public health.

Last week a major United States report into the health effects of e-cigarettes found that vaping might be useful to help people quit smoking.

And to help Mr MacKinnon has pledged to champion Scotland's Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation - six principles laid down by Ash towards a smoke free nation.

While tobacco smoke contains a host of risky chemicals, e-cig liquid consists only of nicotine and relatively harmless solvents.