E-cigs are not harmless: a study indicates long-term cancer risks

E-cigs are not harmless: a study indicates long-term cancer risks


Of Vera Martinella

Research conducted at the University of Innsbruck finds DNA mutations similar to those of traditional tobacco users in the mouths of e-cigarette users.

A study just published on scientific magazine Cancer Research has detected DNA mutations linked to carcinogenesis both in consumers of “traditional” cigarettes and in those who use electronic ones. While the findings do not prove that vaping causes cancer, they do indicate that it does genetic alterations and similar damage in both groups of smokers. Damage which, in the long term, can lead to the development of a lung cancer.

The new research

The new research analyzed the epigenetic effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes on DNA methylation 3,500 samples of saliva, blood and cervical cells to investigate the impact of smoking on the directly exposed areas (in the mouth) and those “further away”.
«The term “epigenetics” indicates something that is “above” the genes – he explains Chiara Herzog, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute for Women’s Health at the University of Innsbruck -. Epigenetic modifications can occur, throughout our lives, due to numerous factors, which include our lifestyle, aging, hormonal changes, exposure to chemicals or environmental pollution, for example. It’s as if DNA were the hardware of a computer and epigenetics its software.”
The results of the investigation revealed similar alterations in the mouths of those who smoke normal cigarettes and those who vape, «alterations that can then lead to the formation of a lung tumor – specifies Herzog -. For the first time we have analyzed the impact of e-cigs on different types of cells and it is clear that, in the long term, vaping can also have health consequences.”

They are not harmless

Various research has shown that it is both electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco cigarettes are less harmful of classic tobacco, as many studies have now clarified that they are not harmless devices for health.
E-cigs can cause harm due to the presence of some sdangerous substances, such as heavy metals and aldehydes in the aerosol And the results achieved so far show negative effects measurable on health and lung cells, in people, animals and tissue samples analyzed in the laboratory. Several scientific studies have highlighted an increase in respiratory disorders in adolescents and young people who vapewhich bronchitis, asthma, breathlessness, inflammation. And then there are many clues collected regarding the damage to the lungs of young people and adults, including a certain series of lipoid pneumonia, which can occur due to inhalation of oily substances.

Danger for the youngest

«It took decades of observation and millions of data collected to understand the consequences of tobacco on our body – he comments Roberto Boffi, head of the Pneumology Unit and the Anti-Smoking Center at the National Cancer Institute of Milan-. Today we know that smoking is the certain cause and often primarily responsible for thousands of cancer cases every year (of lung, bladder, mouth and many others), cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. As well as a very long list of other pathologies. Electronic cigarettes and, even more so, heated tobacco products (or so-called “smoke-free”), the latest arrivals on the market, are too recent to be able to control in the long term what happens to those who use them.”
Finally, it should not be overlookedhigh probability that kids who “vape” with e-cigs will end up switching to the more harmful traditional cigarettesthe, as many investigations have already shown. «Even in Italy many young people, teenagers and even minors vape, even though it is prohibited – concludes Boffi -. E-cigs and new products have been advertised as less dangerous, less harmful and this has favored their diffusion.”

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March 27, 2024


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