|E-cigarettes have become popular methods for quitting smoking in recent years, and have even become popular among non-smokers. These products are marketed as safer alternatives that do not have nearly as many carcinogens or chemicals that can cause oral and overall health issues.
But just recently, however, a new study showed that e-cigs aren’t nearly as safe as many people think.
A medical research team at the University of Rochester recently published its findings in Oncotarget, an open-access medical journal. Dr. Irfan Rahman, a Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s School of Medicine and Dentistry led the study, which is the first of its kind.
The report says that e-cigarettes can can cause cells to become inflamed, which can cause serious oral diseases.
One of the most common of these diseases, periodontitis, affects more than 47% of adults over the age of 30. More often known by its common name, gum disease, periodontitis is characterized by swollen and tender gums, as well as pockets between the teeth and gums, sometimes exposing the roots of the teeth. In very serious cases, tooth loss can occur. However, it is fairly easy to prevent further damage as long as one practices good oral hygiene and has the gum pockets cleaned regularly by a dentist.
Nicotine, the addictive chemical found in both cigarettes, is a known contributor to gum disease, but many forget that e-cigs have just as much nicotine in them as cigarettes do.
Aside from frequency of use and the occurrence of nicotine in the e-cigarette “juice,” artificial flavoring has also been noted as a cause of oral health problems.
“In this study, for the very first time, we showed that these artificial flavors — when they get burnt and mixed with vapor — they add to the inflammation,” said Fawad Javed, a post-doctoral resident at Eastman Institute for Oral Health, adding that some of the flavorings are more potent and cause more damage than others.
These flavors are appealing to many, even those who do not smoke cigarettes. The e-cig industry has often been criticized for encouraging smoking among children and teens. While “vaping” appears to be much safer than smoking cigarettes, the fact is that there are still health risks that come along with it.
As e-cigarettes are still a relatively new technology, scientists have not had the opportunity to conduct long-term studies on the effects that these vapors have on the body.
“More research, including long term and comparative studies, is needed to better understand the health effects of e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Rahman. He hopes that e-cigarette manufacturers will soon move towards informing their customers about the potential risk of these products by disclosing all materials and chemicals that the vapors contain.