Does vaping cause cancer because it damages DNA?

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There are claims that vaping damages DNA. This assertion can be explained by the fact the saliva of a small group of e-cigarette users were found to contain high level of three DNA damaging compounds including formaldehyde, acrolein and methylglyoxal. Also, four out of the five users of this study showed an increase in the level of DNA damage in their mouths as compared to people who do not vape.

A senior investigator and assistant professor with the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, Silvia Balbo, however, expressed her concerns giving that vaping has been said to be safer than regular cigarettes. Nevertheless Balbo further argued that considering vaping as safe by comparison to regular cigarettes is not good enough. To her, it doesn’t make sense to say something is safe just because it isn’t bad.

Balbo equally asserted that the study that was carried on e-cigarette users does not in any way prove that e-cigarette causes cancer. However, she agreed that the device produces chemicals that damage the DNA in many ways that could result in cancer. While noting that alcohol as well as sunshine equally damage DNA, Balbo was fast to state that the study that was carried on to ascertain whether or not e-cigarettes damages DNA cannot determine if e-cigarettes are causing a risk for cancer or are carcinogenic.

Furthermore, another study in the Journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology suggests that the chemical flavoring found in e-cigarettes go a long way to harm the cells of blood vessels in a manner that could trigger heart damage in the long run.

It is imperative to note that for the study, Balbo and her colleagues merely wanted to gather more information about the kinds of chemicals that makes their way into the bodies of people who vape. The study was simply carried out by recruiting five e-cigarette users and collecting samples of their saliva before and after a 15 minutes vaping session. Of course, the researchers were specifically looking for chemicals that are known to damage DNA. The researchers also assessed the possible long term effects of vaping by collecting cell samples from volunteers and evaluating them for DNA damage.

Of all the findings, the most disturbing were related to acrolein, which is often produced when glycerol is heated. However, a senior scientific adviser to the American Lung Association, Dr. Norman Edelman revealed that more research is indeed needed to ascertain if the levels of these chemicals are concentrated enough to pose health hazards to human beings. Dr. Edelman further opined that it is very clear that the chemicals in aerosol people inhale when they vape are carcinogenic, but whether or not they are going to cause cancer and to what degree is not known.  Nonetheless, Dr. Edelman was fast to ascertain that the substances that cause cancer in vaped aerosol are at lower levels than the cancer-causing substances in ordinary combustible tobacco.


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