A new study released this week suggests that vaping causes similar DNA damage to the mouth as cigarettes. File Photo by sarahjohnson1/Pixabay
Feb. 14 (UPI) — A new study by the University of Southern California revealed that those who regularly vape and smoke suffer the same levels of DNA damage, refuting messages about vaping being a safer alternative to smoking.
In a study published this week in the journal Nicotine &Tobacco Research, authors at the Keck School of Medicine at USC examined epithelial cells taken from the mouths of vapers, smokers and people who never did either.
They discovered that vapers and smokers had more than twice the amount of DNA damage than non-users. They also found the level of DNA damage done by smoking and vaper were similar in nature.
The researchers noted that DNA damage appeared to be higher in vapers who used vape pods and mods, as well as sweet, fruit or mint-flavored vapes, which are highly popular among teenagers.
Such DNA damage to the lining of the mouth in which the epithelial cells are situated often is associated with an increased risk for many types of chronic disease, including cancer and inflammatory diseases.
“For the first time, we showed that the more vapers used e-cigarettes, and the longer they used them, the more DNA damage occurred in their oral cells,” Dr. Ahmad Besaratinia, of the Keck School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said in a statement. “The same pattern held up in smokers.”
The study appears to cut against information from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which says at least in the short term, vaping may be “less harmful” than smoking.
“All the evidence we present points to nicotine[electronic cigarettes] and non-nicotine [electronic cigarettes] being less harmful than combustible cigarettes,” said Ailsa Butler with the University of Oxford’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine in Britain.
Butler led a study posted earlier this month in the Cochrane Review, which examined 78 studies that showed that e-cigarettes were more successful than traditional nicotine replacements in helping people quit smoking.
“All the evidence we present points to nicotine [electronic cigarettes] and non-nicotine [electronic cigarettes] being less harmful than combustible cigarettes,” Butler told HealthDay.
“However, due to the lack of long-term evidence, we cannot comment on the safety of e-cigarettes used for longer than two years.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website said while e-cigarettes have “the potential to benefit adults who smoke” it stressed that research is limited and advises people not to start.
“E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant adults, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products,” the CDC said.
“While e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit some people and harm others, scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective in helping adults quit smoking.”