The study, conducted by researchers from the New York University School of Medicine, exposed mice to e-cigarette smoke (ECS) for 12 weeks at a dose and duration equivalent to light e-cigarette smoking for 10 years in humans.
Researchers found evidence that nicotine inhaled from e-cigarettes could be converted into chemicals that damage DNA in the heart, lungs and bladder, and dampen down the body's genetic fix mechanisms. However, the results of this study may take several years to determine. "It doesn't show that vaping causes cancer".
"This study shows nothing at all about the dangers of vaping", Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London told the Guardian. "It would also provide clarity around the greatly reduced risk associated with vaping compared to smoking which would encourage more people to make the switch".
The researchers said that if the findings will be confirmed in future studies, it could mean that e-cigarettes, always been considered to be the safer alternative to traditional cigarette and tobacco products, also carry cancer risk through the nicotine that they deliver.
'In terms of safety, e-cigarettes are likely far closer to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Participants tended to go longer in the morning before having a vape, they reduced to e-liquids with less nicotine over time and some vaped only zero nicotine e-liquids. Natural DNA fix mechanisms were also suppressed in the mice exposed to the smoke. Details of the study are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Similar results were seen when cultured human lung and bladder cells were exposed to nicotine and nicotine derivatives. The findings of the study by itself are neither conclusive.
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Vaping may raise the risk of cancer because it leads to DNA damage, even though it contains fewer carcinogens than tobacco smoke, a United States study has found.
The report also said that the potential dangers and benefits of vaping e-cigarettes may depend on the user's age.
In 2016, the FDA finalized a rule extending its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, as well as hookah and pipe tobacco, as part of its goal to improve public health.
Evidence points to the "almost unambiguous" conclusion that nicotine can convert to a carcinogen once inside the human body, said study author Moon-shong Tang, a professor of environmental medicine and pathology at NYU School of Medicine.
While tobacco smoke contains a host of potentially risky chemicals, e-cigarette vapour consists only of nicotine and some relatively harmless organic solvents.