Study: Vaping Causes DNA Damage in Human Cells and Mice
Study: Vaping Causes DNA Damage in Human Cells and Mice

Study: Vaping Causes DNA Damage in Human Cells and Mice

New findings suggest that nicotine inhaled from e-cigarettes could contribute to cancer and heart disease, but critics warn that the data are too preliminary to draw such conclusions.

Ashley Yeager
Ashley Yeager

Ashley started at The Scientist in 2018. Before joining the staff, she worked as a freelance editor and writer, a writer at the Simons Foundation, and a web producer at...

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Jan 30, 2018


Nicotine inhaled from e-cigarettes can damage DNA in mouse heart, lung, and bladder and in cultured human lung and bladder cells, a new study shows. The results, published Monday (January 29) in PNAS, suggest that vaping increases the risk of developing cancer and heart disease and reinforce the research showing e-cigarettes’ risks to human health.

The DNA changes were similar to those linked to secondhand smoke, study coauthor Moon-shong Tang of New York University tells The Guardian. Specifically, the team found that two mutagenic compounds develop in lung, bladder, and heart cells exposed to e-cigarette smoke. DNA-repair activity and the repair proteins XPC and OGG1/2 were reduced in the lung tissue of mice.

See “Swapping Cigarettes for Vaping

Critics caution that the mice in the study were exposed to higher levels of e-cigarette smoke than those who vape might inhale...

In the paper, Tang and his colleagues concede that “it takes decades for carcinogen exposure to induce cancer in humans, [so] for decades to come there will be no meaningful epidemiological study to address the carcinogenicity of [e-cigarette smoke].” Still, the levels of carcinogenic compounds are higher in the blood of vapers than nonsmokers, pointing to the increased risk of developing cancer.

The bottom line, Tang tells Bloomberg, is: “Don’t think a vapor is harmless.”

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