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E cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco smoke to oral health

In a study published in the journal Oncotarget, researchers found that the chemicals present in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) vapor were equally as damaging – in some cases, more damaging – to mouth cells as tobacco smoke.

Such damage can lead to an array of oral health problems, including gum disease, tooth loss, and mouth cancer.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices containing a heating device and a cartridge that holds a liquid solution. The heating device vaporizes the liquid – usually when the user “puffs” on the device – and the resulting vapor is inhaled.

While e-cigarette liquids do not contain tobacco – a highly harmful component of conventional cigarettes – they do contain nicotine and other chemicals, including flavoring agents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of e-cigarettes has increased in recent years, particularly among young people. In 2015, 16 percent of high-school students reported using the devices, compared with just 1.5 percent in 2011.

E-cigarettes are considered by many to be safer than conventional smoking, but because the devices are relatively new to the market, little is known about the long-term effects of vaping on health.

To address this gap in research, the team exposed the gum tissue of nonsmokers to either tobacco- or menthol-flavored e-cigarette vapor.

The tobacco-flavored vapor contained 16 milligrams of nicotine, while the menthol flavor contained 13-16 milligrams of nicotine or no nicotine.

The researchers found that all e-cigarette vapor caused damage to gum tissue cells comparable to that caused by exposure to tobacco smoke.

The researchers note that nicotine is a known contributor to gum disease, but e-cigarette flavoring appeared to exacerbate the cell damage caused by e-cigarette vapor, with menthol-flavored vapor posing the most harm.

Source: Medical News Today.

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