The researchers, led by Dr. Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, chief of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in San Diego, found that the vapor from two popular brands of e-cigs caused damage to cells.
Their methodology, according to the Guardian:
The scientists treated cells in petri dishes with vapour from a nicotine-based e-cigarette and a nicotine-free variety and found that the cells exposed to either vapour were more likely to become damaged or die than those that had not.
“There must be other components in the e-cigarettes that are doing this damage. So we may be identifying other carcinogenic components that are previously undescribed," Dr. Wang-Rodriguez said of the study. "For now, we were able to at least identify that e-cigarettes on the whole have something to do with increased cell death.”
She told KPBS News in San Diego that some e-cigarettes contain substances like formaldehyde, but better discloser from manufacturers about ingredients, regulation, and further research was necessary.
“Our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public," Dr. Wang-Rodriguez said.
The report's findings were released shortly after Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller publicly supported e-cigarettes, calling them a more healthy alternative to regular smoking, which may even assist smokers in kicking the habit, a claim that may not be true.
Earlier in December, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that the artificial flavoring used in e-cigarettes, which appeal to younger users, contain harmful chemicals, including one that is linked to lung disease.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently released an annual survey that said e-cigarettes were more popular than traditional cigarettes among teens, 20% of whom did not know they were ingesting nicotine while vaping.
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