E-Cigarettes Might Be as Bad as the Real Thing

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I hate that I have to do this. But here goes.

Aside from bringing us vape tricks and vape cloud championships, e-cigarettes were supposed to be a good thing. You know, they weren’t supposed to kill us as much as real cigarettes.

Not-so-fast, says a new study. You might be screwed either way. But the study was performed on a piece of resin, not a human, so it’s probably not time to worry just yet.

The University of Connecticut researchers built a crazy, thumb-sized 3D-printed device that can test certain chemicals’ abilities to interact and potentially break your DNA. This damage can lead to mutations, and worse, cancer. The device is honestly pretty cool—it’s a clear piece of resin printed with three teeny chambers that costs .80 cents a piece to build. These link up to an analysis portion where the carcinogen and DNA interact in wells, glowing under a chemical reaction in the presence of a special polymer.


Itching to test out their new device, they collected filtered and unfiltered cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor with a fake lung, using a 15 to 30 vape puffs to one cigarette conversion ratio, based on past research. When the sick clouds passed through the chamber, they found e-cigarettes seemed to have the same DNA-damaging effects as regular cigarettes. Even non-nicotine vapes seemed to have the same amount of DNA reactivity as filtered cigarettes, according to the study recently published in ACS Sensors. Bummer.

But there’s obviously a huge caveat, which is that your lungs are not a 3D printed lab-on-a-chip, so don’t go telling your vaping friends they’re killing themselves. There has been past research showing some potential for negative cardiovascular effects associated with e-cigarette use. That research, too, has been looked at with some skepticism by others researchers. And the Royal College of Physicians didn’t expect the hazards of long-term vaping to be more than five percent worse than the harm from smoking tobacco, according to a report from last year.

I don’t want to be the one to tell you to stop vaping. In fact, I’m not going to tell you to stop. I’m just going to say that it’s worth being cautious, because you’re still inhaling potentially DNA-breaking chemicals into your lungs.



[ACS Sensors]

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