E-cigarettes may cause damage to gum tissue
Electronic cigarettes are as equally damaging to gums and teeth as conventional cigarettes, a new study claims.
E-cigarettes continue to grow in popularity among younger adults and current and former smokers because they are often perceived as a healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes.
Previously, scientists thought that the chemicals found in cigarette smoke were the culprits behind adverse health effects, but the use of e-cigarettes may prove problematic also.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have investigated the impact of e-cigarettes on oral health on cellular and molecular levels.
Dr. Irfan Rahman said the study results found that when the vapours from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases.
"How much and how often someone is smoking e-cigarettes will determine the extent of damage to the gums and oral cavity,” he said in a statement.
The study, which exposed 3-D human, non-smoker gum tissue to the vapours of e-cigarettes, also found that the flavouring chemicals play a role in damaging cells in the mouth.
"We learned that the flavourings-some more than others- made the damage to the cells even worse," added study contributor Fawad Javed. "It's important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease."
Most e-cigarettes contain a battery, a heating device, and a cartridge to hold liquid, which typically contains nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals. The battery-powered device heats the liquid in the cartridge into an aerosol that the user inhales.
"More research, including long term and comparative studies, are needed to better understand the health effects of e-cigarettes," noted Dr. Rahman, who would like to see manufacturers disclose all the materials and chemicals used, so consumers can become more educated about potential dangers.
The study was published in journal Oncotarget.