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E-Cigarettes ‘No Better’ Than Smoking Tobacco, Scientists Warn

E-cigarettes are “no better” for health than smoking tobacco, scientists have warned. A new study has shown that vapour from the devices can damage or even destroy human cells. Researchers now want to conduct further tests to determine the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes, including whether they could cause cancer.

It is estimated that 2.6 million adults in Great Britain use electronic cigarettes.

To test the health implications of using the devices, scientists treated cells with a nicotine-based e-cigarette and a nicotine-free version. They found that cells which had been exposed to the vapour were more likely to become damaged or die than those that hadn’t.

“Based on the evidence to date I believe they [e-cigarettes] are no better than smoking regular cigarettes,” said Dr Wang-Rodriguez, chief of pathology at the San Diego branch of the US Department of Veteran Affairs and co-author of the study.

“There have been many studies showing that nicotine can damage cells. But we found that other variables can do damage as well. “It’s not that the nicotine is completely innocent in the mix, but it looks like the amount of nicotine that the cells are exposed to by e-cigarettes is not sufficient by itself to cause these changes. “There must be other components in the e-cigarettes that are doing this damage. So we may be identifying other carcinogenic components that are previously undescribed.

“For now, we were able to at least identify that e-cigarettes on the whole have something to do with increased cell death.”

She added that the results from lab tests aren’t necessarily the same as what would be found in a living person. This is because the amount of vapour used was equivalent of a person vaping for “hours on end”. The research was published in the journal Oral Oncology.

Dr Wang-Rodriguez added: “Our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public. “Vapourised e-cig liquids induce increased DNA strand breaks and cell death.” They now hope to conduct further research to determine the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes. They also hope to discover whether DNA damage from vaping could cause cancer.

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