Stepping Hill Hospital

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"E-cigarette smoke could cause lung cancer – despite being tobacco-free, experts warn," reports The Sun. However, The Sun's headline does not mention that this was based on a study using mice and the findings cannot be automatically applied to humans.
The number of people using e-cigarettes, or vaping, has grown rapidly over the past decade and they have helped many people to give up smoking cigarettes.
However, as e-cigarettes have only been available for a relatively short time, there is still uncertainty over their potential health effects, particularly with long-term use.
This laboratory study involved 85 mice who were divided into 3 groups. Over the course of 1 year, each group was exposed to either:


  • e-cigarette smoke (including nicotine)

  • e-cigarette vapour (without nicotine)

  • filtered normal air


The researchers found that 9 out of 40 mice exposed to e-cigarette smoke developed lung tumours. Only 1 of the mice breathing normal air developed a lung tumour during the study, and none of the mice breathing nicotine-free vapour developed a lung tumour.
More than half of the mice exposed to e-cigarette smoke also showed signs of potentially cancerous changes in their bladder.
At the moment, it's not possible to say that e-cigarettes definitely cause lung cancer or changes in the bladder. This is because humans are not biologically identical to mice. We do not know if the findings represent what would happen in humans, or whether these laboratory exposures are the same as a person vaping.
We need to continue to monitor people using e-cigarettes and gather evidence on the potential health effects of vaping.

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