Electronic cigarettes (or E-Cigs or vaping for short) is a growing trend among those that are looking to get nicotine, but without cigarettes. Many of this electronic cigarettes are marketed as being much better for you, noting that there aren’t the many harmful additives found within. Some studies have found that the amount of toxic chemicals in electronic cigarettes are around one percent of a traditional cigarette.
However, scientists are now saying that it’s better to just give up the smoking (and tobacco) altogether if you truly want to avoid cancer and heart disease. The New York University School of Medicine released a study that said using electronic cigarettes puts you at a higher risk for these diseases; at least in their rests on lab mice.
Mice that were exposed to the equivalent of 10 years worth of “light” electronic cigarette smoking presented a much higher risk due to DNA damage in vital organs such as the lungs, heart and bladder. However, those that led the study warn that people are hardly to encounter that much smoke in such a short amount of time, so it might not be as damaging as it was to the mice, but still could present some long term danger.
Karteek Kadimisetty of the University of Connecticut agreed with the potential danger of electronic cigarettes, saying that “From the results of our study, we can conclude that e-cigarettes have as much potential to cause DNA damage as unfiltered regular cigarettes.”
Kadimisetty added that “I never expected the DNA damage from e-cigarettes to be equal to tobacco cigarettes. I even diluted the samples. But the trend was still there – something in the e-cigarettes was definitely causing damage to the DNA.” The team of researchers was able to come up with their findings thanks to DNA sampling chips. While these typically cost thousands of dollars, the team used 3D printed versions. James Rusling of UConn said “What we developed is very cheap to make, efficient and can be used by almost anyone.”
The United States Food and Drug Administration has already been tightening up on regulations for electronic cigarettes, and findings such as this one are likely to make regulations even tighter. It’s been over a decade since electronic cigarettes first started hitting the market, and it’s not estimated that there are millions of people who use electronic cigarettes on a daily basis.
As for the positive side, using electronic cigarettes instead of regular tobacco has been shown to help people quit. Of the former smokers that were surveyed, 80 percent said that they used electronic cigarettes to help wean them from traditional ones and eventually quit tobacco altogether.
There’s not going to be a total agreement from both sides of the aisle when it comes to electronic cigarettes. Studies like the ones from UConn or NYU have been dismissed by some critics, including Peter Hajek of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London. He said that the study “shows nothing at all about the dangers of vaping.”
He added that “It doesn’t show that vaping causes cancer. 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 a great benefit to them.”
Further studies on animals will continue for years, and it might take even longer than a handful of years before human studies give us an sort of definitive summation like we have with traditional cigarettes. For now, the war wages on between those who say electronic cigarettes are harmful, and those who think that the positives far outweigh any potential negatives.