Vaping Vs Smoking: E-Cigarettes Are Safe, Don't Cause Cancer, New Study Reveals

Kayleigh Armstrong

E-cigarette use is rising in popularity as more smokers now prefer to vape instead of smoking tobacco. There have been concerns over the use of e-cigarettes as previous studies revealed that excessive exposure to the vapor would damage DNA and cause cancer. Now, a new study emerges to refute the claim.

In 2015, University of California, San Diego researchers, along with VA San Diego Healthcare System, conducted a study on e-cigarettes causing cancer, the results of which stated that vapor from the e-cigarettes can render genes unstable and will lead to cancer. Although vaping is now a preferred option for smokers because it doesn't contain nicotine, it is the nicotine-free vapor itself that caused the damage, the previous study stated.

For this newer study published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis and conducted by researchers at British American Tobacco, it was found that the nicotine-free vapors neither induce damage to cells nor cause cancer. Researchers also stated that e-cigarettes are actually safer compared to tobacco.

To arrive at their findings, researchers exposed cells in the lab to vapors from a standard electronic cigarette and compared them to the cells that have been exposed to vapors from a normal cigarette. They used a method called Bhas 42 assay to compare the results. The study showed that only trace amounts of the normal cigarette have been found in the cells and they also promoted tumor growth. On the other hand, e-cigarettes didn't cause cancer to the cells even when given at any nicotine dose.

According to study lead author Dr. Damien Breheny's statement, it was the first study that employed the method Bhas 42 assay to test on vaping and smoking tobacco effects and compare both.

"This is the first time this particular test, the Bhas 42 assay, has been used to compare tobacco and nicotine products. It is one of a series of tests being developed and refined by British American Tobacco to compare the relative biological effects of e-cigarettes and tobacco-heating products with conventional cigarettes."

There are other concerns on the use of e-cigarettes that have recently been given attention. In November 2016, the first study ever on the effects of electronic cigarettes on oral health was conducted. The findings of the study by Irfan Rahman and his team can be found in the journal Oncotarget.

According to this study, e-cigarettes' effects on gums and teeth are equally unpleasant as traditional cigarettes.

"We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases," Rahman, a professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, explained.

The lead author added that the extent of the damage on oral health will depend on the frequency of use of the e-cigarettes. The study also exposed gum tissues to vapors of the smoking device but found that the flavoring can also play a part in the damage. According to study contributor Fawad Javed, the flavors can worsen the effects oral health.

"We learned that the flavorings-some more than others—made the damage to the cells even worse. It's important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease."