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New research suggests e-cigarettes could be harmful to gums

More research is needed, however.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

E-CIGARETTES COULD DAMAGE gums and teeth, according to a significant recent study on the effects of vaping on oral health.

The research, published in the journal Oncotarget, was led by Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York.

It is the first scientific study to address e-cigarettes and their effect on oral health on cellular and molecular levels.

The study, available for download here, tested the effects of two varieties of e-cigarette vapour on gum cells.

Compared to cells that were exposed only to air, those exposed to the vapour showed greater effects of inflammation and harm.

“We showed that when the vapours from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases,” explained Rahman, who last year published a study about the damaging effects of e-cigarette vapours and flavourings on lung cells and an earlier study on the pollution effects.

“How much and how often someone is smoking e-cigarettes [sic] will determine the extent of damage to the gums and oral cavity.”

The study also found that the flavouring chemicals play a role in damaging cells in the mouth.

“We learned that the flavourings – some more than others – made the damage to the cells even worse,” added Fawad Javed, a post-doctoral resident at Eastman Institute for Oral Health, part of the UR Medical Center, who contributed to the study.

“It’s important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease.”

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“More research, including long term and comparative studies, are needed to better understand the health effects of e-cigarettes,” added Rahman, who would like to see manufacturers disclose all the materials and chemicals used, so consumers can become more educated about potential dangers.

Electronic cigarettes continue to grow in popularity among younger adults and current and former smokers, especially in light of major recent studies from the UK’s Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, indicating that, on the whole, they are vastly less harmful than conventional tobacco cigarettes.

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