Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

June 28th, 2016:

E-cigarettes could be toxic to the mouth: Vaping ‘kills cells in the oral cavity – raising the risk of disease’

Vapours contain toxic substances and particles which damage skin cells
Exposure reduced body’s natural defences of the antioxidant glutathione
Scientists say it could lead to increased risk of oral disease like cancer

Smoking e-cigarettes may not be much safer than tobacco when it comes to oral health, a new study suggests.

Researchers found e-cigarettes contain toxic substances and nanoparticles that could kill the top layer of skin cells in the oral cavity – behind teeth and gums.

Scientists from UCLA, who was conducted the investigations on cultured cells, believe the same results could happen in a human study – increasing people’s risk of oral disease including cancer.

The latest findings add to a growing body of evidence linking the stop-smoking aids to health risks.

Just yesterday, researchers in North Carolina reported using the devices increases the risk of infection because it damages hundreds of genes in the immune system.

It follows a rapid rise in the use of e-cigarettes in recent years, especially among smokers trying to cut down or quit.

The gadgets deliver a nicotine hit by heating a nicotine-containing propylene glycol (e-liquid) to create an aerosol (usually called ‘vapour’), which is inhaled.

The Centers for Disease Control found that 2.4 million middle school and high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2014.

Nearly one in six people in the UK have now used the devices – 15.5 per cent, up from 8.9 per cent two years earlier.

Doctors back e-cigarettes as an effective method of quitting smoking, with the NHS cleared this year to prescribe the devices for the first time.

But while the effects of conventional cigarette smoke on human health have been well documented, research into e-cigarettes is still in its infancy.

This is especially true when it comes to their effect on the oral cavity, they say.

The research team, led by Dr Shen Hu took cell cultures from the outermost layer of the oral cavity and exposed the cells to two different brands of e-cigarette vapour for 24 hours.

The vapour, containing varying amounts of nicotine or menthol, was generated by a machine built to ‘smoke’ cigarettes like a human would.

The researchers then measured the particle concentration and size distribution of the simulated vapours.

They found the vapours, which contain nanoparticles of metal, silica and carbon, varied in concentration depending on the e-cigarette brand and flavour.

Laboratory tests on cultured cell lines showed e-cigarette vapours may significantly weaken the oral cavity’s natural defence mechanism by decreasing the levels of an antioxidant called glutathione.

This caused roughly 85 per cent of the tested cells to die.

Dr Hu, an associate professor of oral biology at the school of dentistry, said they were now looking to conduct the test on people.

‘A small but significant portion of dental patients at UCLA Dental Clinics have used e-cigarettes, which will provide sufficient patient resources for our planned studies,’ he said.

‘Our hope is to develop a screening model to help predict toxicity levels of e-cigarette products, so that consumers are better informed.’

Researchers suggest health care providers should do more to raise public awareness of the products’ potential health risks.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS One.

Getting personal over all that poisoning

EDITORIAL: The shills of Big Tobacco are a legitimate target for anger.

MP Marama Fox had scope for withering reproach at a toxic industry in her televised debate with Dr Axel Gietz, who was here to emphasise the trademark entitlements in the face of the Government’s plans to introduce tougher plain packaging requirements.

She was doing fine until she fell into a trap of getting indulgently personal.

She called called him a peddler of death; one who profits from the misery of others.

That wasn’t the trap. It was personal, yes, but not indefensibly so. Anybody up for denying that he does?

No, the trap was upscaling things, perhaps because it felt so righteously pleasing to keep going. She called Gietz a corporate executioner and trotted out a Nazi comparison to cast him as akin to Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels, — who was also a German doctor, see?

How many people would have heard that and thought, immediately, of Godwin’s Law — that the longer a discussion goes on, the greater the risk some clod will bring out a Hitler/Nazi comparison. The implication is that generally his is where things have deteriorated to the point where sensible people should tune out.

As it happens, Mike Godwin didn’t take the view that there are no valid lessons to be drawn from understanding Nazi methodology. If anything his intent was more protective; that careless comparisons debase legitimate ones.

Was Fox’s comparison legitimate? What matters more is that it was so very unhelpful to her cause, allowing Gietz to adopt an air of aggrieved dignity and turning what should be a debate on law and morality into an inquiry into manners.

His message was essentially that the industry’s right to make a legal buck demands huge compensation if, after so many years of deceit on its part and indolence on ours, society truly commits itself to put the brakes on all that death and disease.

Which is fatuous nonsense. Every country has the sovereign right to protect the health of its people. The industry cannot plausibly present itself as an honest player, surprised and disappointed to discover, only now, that its product is pure poison that does unspeakable harm. And then contend that, even so, its business rights are somehow no less sanctified than human life.