Cigarettes As Bad For Your DNA As Smoking Tobacco, Study Says

Alicia Farmer
January 30, 2018

E-cigarettes (a.k.a. vaporizers or vapes) aren't necessarily a safe substitute for the real thing. Details of the study are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Despite more young people using vapors more than any other tobacco product, according to the study, 28-year-old Jason Kolnowski said vaping helped him quit smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Typically, an e-cigarette is filled with chemicals like propylene glycol, glycerine, nicotine, and flavorings such as menthol or mint.

In relation to those who do not smoke at all, smoking a cigarette increases the risk of coronary heart disease in women (119%) than in men (74%).

The researchers have now launched long-term experiments to look at the development of tumours in mice exposed to vapour from e-cigarettes, but Tang does not expect to have answers any time soon.

Post-ECS, the mice showed increased evidence of adducts, modifications to DNA that form when a chunk of DNA binds to a chemical, altering the structure of the DNA and increasing the risk for mutation. DNA can fix itself, but, the researchers observed, the fix protein levels had also dropped.

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Does that mean that smokers trying to escape the myriad health risks associated with tobacco will have to give up e-cigarettes and vaping too?

It would have been nice if this study had taken the extra step of exposing mice to tobacco smoke as well, and then compared them head-to-head against the mice that inhaled e-cigarette vapor, said Anthony Alberg.

To see if e-cigarette smoke would affect humans similarly, they also exposed lung, heart, and bladder cells to nicotine and nitrosamine, a carcinogenic chemical compound formed by the human body when it processes nicotine. "In both conditions nicotine is in aerosol state and reaches lung via the same path". "Nicotine with e-cigarette solvent caused the same damage as nicotine alone".

Nevertheless, an important point to consider is that other health risks associated with smoking tobacco are most definitely avoided by e-cigarettes.

All in all, a rather unclear picture emerges.

Last week a major USA report into the health effects of e-cigarettes found that vaping might be useful to help people quit smoking. Whether or not Tang's research into nicotine by-products changes that conclusion remains to be seen.

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