A scientific study conducted by experts at the UCLA has shown that e-cigs may be almost equally dangerous as traditional tobacco cigarettes. According to the study, which was based on culture cells, e-cigarettes are packed with toxic compounds and some nanoparticles that have the ability to eliminate the outer layer of cells found in the mouth. The scientists claim that we can expect the same results in human subjects and that e-cigs boost the chances of developing oral disease.
These results, revealed in the PLOS One journal on the Internet, mean that healthcare professionals must explain the potential risks of the use of electronic cigarettes to their patients.
In the last five years, the number of people using electronic cigarettes has increased drastically. These figures are especially high when it comes to women and teenagers/young adults.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) about 2.5 million students in middle schools and high schools were e-cig smokers.
What is interesting is that in many countries around the world, their health agencies and other health officials (like in the UK), are recommending e-cigarettes as a substitution for tobacco cigarettes. Even though the impact of smoking traditional cigarettes on our health has been analyzed through many studies, the research related to e-cigarettes is scarce especially when it comes to their impact on the health of the oral cavity.
So, the UCLA scientists, monitored and guided by Dr. Shen Hu, who is by the way a professor focused on medicine and oral biology, used cell cultures obtained from the top layer of this cavity and monitored their reactions when they were exposed to the vapor of two popular e-cigarette brands for one day. This vapor, which has different quantities of menthol or nicotine, was created by a machine. After that, the scientists measured the concentration of different particles.
In the end, researchers discovered that the vapor from e-cigarettes, which came with nanparticles of carbon, silica and metal, has different level of concentration which was closely related to the flavor and brand of e-cigs. Lab tests on these cultured cells have revealed that vapors have the ability to make the defense system of the oral cavity weaker because they are reducing the natural levels of glutathione, an important antioxidant. This was the reason why up to 85% of the cultured cells were dead once the exposure was finished.
According to Hu, their next mission is to perform similar tests in human subjects in order to confirm their theory that e-cigarettes are harmful.
He also added that a very small but important number of dental patients that treat their problems at the Dental Clinics at UCLA are passionate e-cig users. This is where they will find their human participants for the study. Their final goal is to determine the level of toxicity in popular e-cigarettes brands and finally found out whether they are good or bad for our health especially for our oral health.