Vaping or smoking e-cigarettes containing nicotine-based liquid can be as harmful as tobacco cigarettes according to a new study.

Nevertheless, another study shows that people who smoke e-cigarettes are less dependent on the product. While e-cigarettes are a safer alternative, it seems that smoking them is in no way as healthy as remaining smoke-free.

E-cigarettes may be as harmful as conventional cigarettes. Image credit: Getty Images. 

Potentially as harmful, but always safer than tobacco

Researchers at the University of Connecticut performed the first study. They wanted to see if they could damage cellular DNA by using e-cigarette liquids with and without nicotine.

They introduced liquid samples to a specialized tool that would allow them to interact with human enzymes and DNA,. Then, they assessed the DNA damage with a camera and they measured the results against the effects of conventional tobacco cigarettes. The more damaged the DNA was, the higher the risk for cancerous cells to form.

Almost 60 percent of e-cigarette smokers also smoke conventional cigarettes. Image credit: iStock Photo/NPR.

“From the results of our study, we can conclude that e-cigarettes have as much potential to cause DNA damage as unfiltered regular cigarettes,” stated Karteek Kadimisetty, lead author of the study.

It was also determined that 20 puffs of an e-cigarette equal to one standard unfiltered cigarette. It also appears that non-nicotine vaping liquid has a lot of chemical additives deemed as carcinogens.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a report last December speaking about his concerns on the rising popularity of e-cigarettes, as they appear to be more attractive to high school students compared to tobacco cigarettes.

He stated that at the time of the report, e-cigarettes were the most common tobacco-based product used by young Americans, an achievement that was nowhere near to be accomplished in 2010 when someone smoking an e-cigarette was an odd sight.

Several studies have weighed upon the potential drawbacks of e-cigarettes, which claim to be a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. A Harvard study published in 2015 suggests that e-cigarette users are less likely to quit, which adds up to another study published in the U.K. that explained how e-cigarette smokers are 28 percent less likely to give up their habit.

Smoking products with nicotine, even if it is occasionally, can have severe consequences upon one’s life other than increasing the risk of having cancer. While no one may doubt that a puff of a tobacco cigarette is more dangerous than one from an e-cigarette, both tend to include a dose of nicotine, glycerin, and flavorings.

Most of those who use e-cigarettes believe that it is safer only because there is neither smoke, tar, or carbon monoxide.

Stopping to smoke products with nicotine causes withdrawal symptoms. In younger people, it may cause damage to memory, attention span, and arteries.

Despite all criticism, researchers agree that on a broader perspective, e-cigarettes are less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes.

“The worst critics of e-cigarettes would probably argue they’re a half to two-thirds less dangerous. But from a practical view, they’re probably on the order of 80% to 85% less dangerous, at least,” states Kenneth Warner, a tobacco policy specialist at the University of Michigan.

Source: ACS Publications