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.”

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?