The nicotine in e-cigarettes seems to damage DNA in ways that may increase cancer risk, a new study in mice suggests.
The damage was seen both to DNA and its ability to repair itself, making cells more likely to mutate and develop into cancer, said lead researcher Moon-shong Tang, a professor of environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine.
If confirmed in future studies, the finding could mean that e-cigarettes carry their own cancer risk through the nicotine they deliver, said Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center.
"It's the first evidence we have that nicotine can be carcinogenic in and of itself," said Herbst, chair of the American Association for Cancer Research's Tobacco and Cancer Subcommittee. "It's certainly concerning, and certainly gives pause if one were to say e-cigarettes were safe and could be used by all people without consequences."
However, not all animal research produces similar results in humans.
For their experiment, Tang and his colleagues exposed laboratory mice to e-cigarette vapor, which contains both nicotine and liquid solvents. They also exposed mice to the nicotine and the solvents separately.
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