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article imageNew doubts cast over e-cigarettes

By Tim Sandle     Jun 14, 2017 in Health
University of Connecticut scientists have published a study that shows electronic cigarettes ('e-cigarettes') are potentially as harmful as tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have been a controversial product since they were launched, dividing medical opinion. Advocates state that vaping devices draw people away from traditional cigarettes and thus avoid the various ill-health associated diseases (such as lung cancer) linked with tobacco products. However, other, such as the World Health Organization are concerned about the chemicals in e-cigarettes and the unknown, potential adverse effects these could have on the lungs. Additionally, health promotion campaigners raise the issue that many people, particularly teenagers, are taking up e-cigarettes even though they have never smoked traditional tobacco products, attracted by the various flavors, like bubble-gum.
READ MORE: E-cigarettes win approval as 'a medicine’ in U.K.
The new concern about e-cigarettes comes from studies using a new 3-D printed testing device. Using this University of Connecticut scientists discovered that e-cigarettes, loaded with a nicotine-based liquid, are potentially as harmful as unfiltered cigarettes. This is in relation to the potential to cause DNA damage (the possibly to the development of cancer). The reason for this appears to be the various chemical additives found in e-cigarette vapors. There are potentially hundreds of chemicals in e-cigarettes that could be contributing to DNA damage, several of which have not been fully defined.
The new device can capable of rapidly detect DNA damage (genotoxicity) in test samples. The equipment deploys micropumps to propel liquid samples into multiple ‘microwells’ embedded in a small carbon chip (lab-on-a-chip technology). The wells are contain reactive human metabolic enzymes and DNA. Reactions between the metabolites and the DNA produce light, which can be analyzed. The reactions are intended to replicate what happens in the human body.
READ MORE: Doubts cast over e-cigarette research
According to Dr. Karteek Kadimisetty, who led the research: "From the results of our study, we can conclude that e-cigarettes have as much potential to cause DNA damage as unfiltered regular cigarettes." The findings are likely to prompt further study.
The findings are published in the journal ACS Sensors, under the title "Automated 3-D Printed Arrays to Evaluate Genotoxic Chemistry: E-Cigarettes and Water Samples."
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