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Using e-cigarettes (also called vaping) is becoming a common alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat liquid to form an inhalable vapor. Both conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical. 

With the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, new questions surrounding their health risks have arisen in the public sphere. One of the biggest questions: can vaping cause lung cancer? 

Are There Carcinogens in E-Cigarettes?

One difference between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes is that e-cigarettes don’t involve the tar, smoke and tobacco that cause cancer in people who smoke cigarettes. Tobacco smoke has over 70 known carcinogens. E-cigarettes and the vapor they produce contain the following:

  • Nicotine
  • Flavoring chemicals
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Heavy metals
  • Ultrafine particles
  • Formaldehyde

Of these substances, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, but there are questions over whether or not it increases the risk of cancer in e-cigarette users. Formaldehyde is produced when e-cigarettes are on very high heat, a setting that people may not use for their devices. And e-cigarettes may not produce formaldehyde at levels that pose a risk for cancer.

One of the problems researchers face is identifying all the ingredients in e-cigarette liquids. Liquid components vary by brands, and not all the ingredients are listed on the packaging. Researchers can’t say definitively if e-cigarette users are exposed to toxic chemicals in amounts large enough to cause cancer. Current research has suggested that the levels of carcinogens and toxins delivered through e-cigarettes are less than the levels delivered through conventional cigarettes.

What Does the Research Say?

To date, there’s only 1 publication studying the link between e-cigarettes and lung cancer. It was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in October 2019. 

  • The study was performed with mice. Group 1 was exposed to e-cigarette vapor with nicotine and group 2 was exposed to e-cigarette vapor without nicotine.
  • The study assessed the amount of DNA damage the mice sustained, and how efficiently the body could repair the damage.
  • After 54 weeks, 22.5% of mice in group 1 developed a type of lung cancer called adenocarcinoma. 57.5% of mice in group 1 developed precancerous bladder lesions. In group 2, none of the mice developed lung cancer and only 1 mouse developed bladder lesions. 
  • The research linked nicotine to damage and inhibited repair of DNA in the lungs and bladders of mice. 

There are limitations to this study: the results do not necessarily translate to the long-term effects e-cigarette vapor has on humans. Because research into e-cigarettes is still emerging, it will likely take many years before enough data is collected to determine the long-term health effects of e-cigarette vapor on humans. 

Lung Health Institute Treats Chronic Lung Disease

Lung Health Institute offers an alternative treatment for chronic lung disease: cellular therapy. Cellular therapy uses isolated and concentrated cells from your own body to help reduce lung inflammation and prevent further damage to lung tissues. Our treatment may be able to slow the progression of your disease and help you maintain a better quality of life.

If you are interested in learning more or scheduling a free consultation, contact one of our patient coordinators today.

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