Bad News: E-Cigs Alter Cells A Lot Like Tobacco Does

Bad News: E-Cigs Alter Cells a Lot Like Tobacco Does

A new cancer study brings more bad news to the e-cigarette industry. Scientists exposed human bronchial cells to e-cig vapour and found that it altered the cells in a way not dissimilar to tobacco. In other words, that delicious, seemingly risk-free nicotine vapour might not be so benign, after all.

Don't worry too much, though, vaping enthusiasts. Science is complicated, and it will take some time before we know exactly how these cells are being altered. To get a little more technical about it, the cells exposed to e-cig vapour "showed a similar pattern of gene expression" to those exposed to tobacco smoke, explains Nature.

The cells were altered, in other words, but it's still unclear if those alterations mean that e-cig vapour causes cancer. But the prognosis doesn't look good. "[E-cigarettes] may be safer [than tobacco]," says lung cancer researcher Avrum Spira who led the study, "but our preliminary studies suggest that they may not be benign."

What makes this study especially unnerving for e-cig smokers (vapers?) is the fact that it comes on the heels of several other studies with damning results. It was just a couple of weeks ago that we learned how the nicotine juice used in e-cigs is poisoning children. And that was just a couple weeks after we learned that e-cig use in teens showed a correlation with tobacco smoking. That read as evidence that instead of deterring people from smoking cigarettes, e-cigs were actually encouraging them to do it. Not just any people, either. Teenagers!

Of course, the smoke blows both ways. There is some evidence that e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation tool, though that remains a controversial claim. It's undeniable, however, that vaping instead of smoking means that you avoid inhaling all of that toxic smog that's produced when you light up a cigarette. In other words, while smoking e-cigarettes may harm you a little bit, it almost certainly harms you less than real cigarettes.

Nevertheless, the list of bad news for the e-cig industry goes on, and studies like this week are bound to impact how the Federal Drug Administration decides to regulate the Wild West that is the e-cig industry, a decision that's due out any day now. Of course, the government's been at war with the e-cig industry for some time. Another negative study is just more ammunition for that rule-making arsenal, making it more likely that vaping will be banned altogether or at least as heavily restricted as tobacco.

Or, as some would argue, it's just another reason to smoke weed instead. At least the green doesn't cause cancer — or, rather, cannabis advocates say it doesn't. And you can vape it to your heart's content. [Nature via Motherboard]


Comments

    I always wondered why e-cigs were not prescribed by a doctor

    1) Tobacco is cancer causing largely because it delivers specific carcinogens such as NNK and NNAL that are not present in cannabis. Not all "tar" is created equal, and tobacco has some of the most carcinogenic types of tar known to science, whereas cannabis does not.

    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/91/14/1194

    2) Cannabis (marijuana) use is associated with a DECREASE in several types of cancer... potentially even providing a protective effect against tobacco and alcohol related cancer development.

    Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased lung cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

    Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn't also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

    "Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some. Both types of smoke contain carcinogens and particulate matter that promotes inflammatory immune responses that may enhance the carcinogenic effects of the smoke. However, cannabis typically down-regulates immunologically-generated free radical production by promoting a Th2 immune cytokine profile. Furthermore, THC inhibits the enzyme necessary to activate some of the carcinogens found in smoke. In contrast, tobacco smoke increases the likelihood of carcinogenesis by overcoming normal cellular checkpoint protective mechanisms through the activity of respiratory epithelial cell nicotine receptors. Cannabinoids receptors have not been reported in respiratory epithelial cells (in skin they prevent cancer), and hence the DNA damage checkpoint mechanism should remain intact after prolonged cannabis exposure. Furthermore, nicotine promotes tumor angiogenesis whereas cannabis inhibits it."

    See:http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/2/1/21

    So there we have it: Tobacco Causes Cancer and Cannabis Prevents Cancer - even when smoked!

    Always thought the same about Nicobate patches & more recently the sprays!

    What about e-smokes that don't have nicotine. That's the type I use.

    I guess someone needs to read the study before commenting...

    The cells were "immortalised" (in other words they do not die off as they're supposed to, hey. just like a cancer), the tests were done "in vitro" on growth medium... yes a very accurate simulation of tissue in a person... not.

    Over all this article is full of hype, BS and looks like it was scripted by anti-tobacco ideologues.

    You could put rat poison in a glass pipe, smoke it and probably still be better off than smoking a cigarette

    ill take my chances with the vape thanks

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