Vaping Raises Cancer Risk, New Study Finds, But Still Better Than Tobacco Smoking

Kayleigh Armstrong

More people who wish to quit smoking are turning to e-cigarettes, which is considered to be a safer alternative. Previous studies stated that vaping or using e-cigarettes, compared to tobacco smoking, will not cause cancer. However, a new study performed by a team of researchers at the New York University found that vaping raises cancer risk.

According to a study by British American Tobacco last year, exposure to e-cigarette vapors did not damage any human cells, refuting a 2015 study that stated it did. But this new study, appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, questions the long-held belief that vaping and e-cigarettes are safe. Although e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they are usually advertised as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. E-cigs don't contain extra chemicals, like irritants, carcinogenic compounds, and allergens that are present in regular cigarettes.

The team led by Dr. Moon-shong Tang, however, found that vaping raises cancer risk by causing cell mutations. To arrive at the findings, the scientists exposed human bladder and lung cells to vapors from e-cigarettes. The experiment showed that the cells mutated at a much faster rate than they expected. The team also used mice in their study and found that e-cigarette smoke caused significant damage to the animals' DNA.

Tang, a Professor of Environmental Medicine, Pathology and Medicine, was also surprised to find that smoke from e-cigarettes caused the damage the same way as tobacco smoke did even without those aforementioned extra chemicals. Researchers believe that this effect is due to how the body processed the addictive chemical, which results in its byproducts.

"Based on these results, we propose that [e-cigarette vapor] is carcinogenic and that E-cig smokers have a higher risk than nonsmokers to develop lung and bladder cancer and heart diseases."

Switching from tobacco products to e-cigarettes is considered a better move since there are lesser health risks associated with vaping compared to smoking. But overall, scientists admit that there is more to be done when it comes to finding out about the health effects of the former. This is important, especially for non-smokers, who would immediately think that vaping bring zero harm, and for teens who are now more inclined to use e-cigarettes.