As part of their tests, mice were exposed to e-cigarette smoke (ECS) for three months at a dose and duration equivalent to light e-cigarette smoking for 10 years in humans.The exposure led to DNA damage in the animals' lungs, bladders and hearts.
Possibly, more should be done to advertise e-cigarettes to smokers as a means for them to quit smoking, as research has shown it is less harmful than tobacco smoking.
"While e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people and harm others, scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking", the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised.
Still, "this study shows nothing at all about the dangers of vaping", Peter Hajek, director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine's Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, notes in The Guardian.
Experiments conducted on mice and cultured human cells show that nicotine in e-cigarette vapors may cause changes in the DNA that may elevate cancer risk. According to the chemists, the damage caused by vaping increased as a person took more puffs of an e-cigarette. The study estimates that the risk of one cigarette per day is greater than previously thought and equals about half the risk of smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
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Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals and at least 70 are known either to cause or drive cancer in the body.
The researchers said that if the findings will be confirmed in future studies, it could mean that e-cigarettes, always been considered to be the safer alternative to traditional cigarette and tobacco products, also carry cancer risk through the nicotine that they deliver. A study published in Tobacco Regulatory Science, that examined tobacco cigarettes, found that a startling 75% of young smokers would not smoke if cigarettes were unflavored.
They found that in comparison to filtered air, e-cigarette vapour damages DNA and also prevents the genetic code from repairing itself. Mice exposed to ECS also had reduced DNA fix activity and lower levels of certain DNA fix proteins in the lungs relative to control mice.
In order to be able to do so, it would be necessary to carry out additional and better studies on the short and long-term effects of vaping and its links with conventional cigarettes, the authors emphasized.