As if popcorn lung wasn’t bad enough, researchers recently discovered yet another startling effect of e-cigarette usage.
The research, published in the journal PLOS One, found that the toxic compounds and nanoparticles in e-cigarette vapor can actually damage the outer layer of skin cells in your mouth.
Specifically, they strip away the glutathione – which is sort of like a ‘firewall’ for cells – within that layer. That pesky vapor then kills off 85% of the now-defenseless mouth cells.
This increases your risk for a number of oral diseases – including cancer.
Researchers at UCLA conducted the study using a machine designed to mimic human e-cigarette smoking. They’re now looking to conduct human trials on existing e-cigarette smokers to compare the results, although they expect them to be similar.
“Considering the increasing popularity of EC’s [electronic cigarettes] in the general population, there is an urgent need to characterize EC arsenols and assess their biological hazard on oral epithelial cells.”
The researchers also urge health care providers to spread the word about the potential risks of e-cigarettes based on their findings.
It Gets Worse
Keep in mind that the risks presented in the UCLA study happen while e-cigarette vapor is still in your mouth. We haven’t even gotten into what happens once it gets further into your body. Spoiler: nothing good.
E-cigarette vapor weakens your immune system and makes heavyweight champions of illnesses you’d normally be able to fight off.
Are They Really Safer?
Many people say e-cigarettes are great because they reduce harm among conventional smokers. There are a few problems with that theory.
32.5% of all adult e-cigarette users have either never smoked or had already quit when they began vaping. 62% of all kids aged 15-19 have smoked an e-cigarette. 72.4% of current adolescent users smoke both electronically and conventionally.
Another hole in the ‘harm reduction’ theory is the fact that consumers didn’t begin using e-cigarettes until recently. Remember, it took centuries for people to recognize the true dangers of smoking cigarettes. Diseases take time to develop and it takes time for researchers to link them to specific activities.
So can we really be sure vaping is a safer option?
Considering the severity of the risks we already know about, just imagine what’s still hiding around the corner.