Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, which has many smokers gravitating towards e-cigarettes in an effort to reduce their risk. E-cigarettes have soared in popularity as the new, safer alternative to real cigarettes, but new research shows that safer doesn’t necessarily mean harmless. While it’s true that e-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals and carcinogens than real cigarettes, recent studies suggest that e-cigarettes can still cause cancer.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health evaluated the effects that e-cigarette vapor had on human lung cells. Scientists from Boston University, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the University of California, L.A., modified human lung cells to have specific mutations that are associated with an elevated risk for cancer. The cells were then grown in a liquid medium that had been exposed to e-cigarette vapor for four hours, while similarly treated cells were grown in liquid that had been exposed to tobacco smoke. The results showed that both sets of cells exhibited changes that were associated with cancer.
The study’s findings are preliminary and will require further research to determine whether a link exists between e-cigarette vapor and cancer. But the results are enough to generate further questions about the safety of e-cigarettes. Another clinical trial is currently underway to determine whether genetic changes occur in the lung tissue of e-cigarette users (Source: New York Times).
E-cigarettes are still fairly new, which means it will be years before scientists are able to evaluate the long-term health effects of inhaling nicotine vapor. Until more information is known, the American Cancer Society recommends that people who want to quit smoking should stick with proven methods, such as pure forms of inhalable nicotine, sprays, gums and patches. For more information, tips, and tools to help you quit smoking, visit Smokefree.gov.