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E-cigarettes can damage cells, may lead to cancer: Study

E-cigarettes can damage cells, may lead to cancer: Study - Marketed as a safer substitute to conventional tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes could damage cells in ways that could lead to cancer, according to a new study.

A team at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System tested two products and found they damaged cells in ways that could lead to cancer. Moreover, the damage occurred even with nicotine-free versions of the products.

Dr Jessica Wang-Rodriquez, one of the lead researchers on the study, from the University of California, San Diego, and her team created an extract from the vapor of two popular brands of e-cigarettes and used it to treat human cells in Petri dishes. When compared with untreated cells, the treated cells were likely to show DNA damage and die.

The exposed cells demonstrated several forms of damage, including DNA strand breaks. The familiar double helix that makes up DNA has two long strands of molecules that entwine.

According to the researchers, when one or both of these strands break apart and the cellular repair process does not work properly, it leads to cancer.

The researchers used normal epithelial cells, which line cavities, organs and glands throughout the body, including the lungs and mouth.

They tested 2 types of each e-cigarette: a nicotine and nicotine-free version. Nicotine is what makes smoking addictive.

It was found that the nicotine versions caused worse damage, but even the nicotine-free vapor was enough to alter cells.

The study has been published in the journal Oral Oncology.