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Which is more harmful: E-Cigarettes or the real ones?

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In recent times, more and more people are turning towards the use of e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes. They have not only become a symbol of fashion and wealth, but are also used by smokers in the hopes of quitting the real cigarettes. What you may be surprised to hear though, is that unlike common belief, electronic cigarettes are not as safe as commercialized. It has been deduced through many studies that they destroy the wellbeing or oral microbiome.

Researchers in Ohio decided to check out the effects of e-smoking on the subgingival microbiome. Their results confirmed that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative for conventional cigarettes, but rather may actually be the cause of rise in periodontal diseases. This study was presented in the meeting of International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in San Francisco on March 24th.

Further Exposure to Risk with E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are devices through which nicotine is delivered and inhaled by the user. They are battery operated and work by heating up a mix of propylene glycol, flavor and nicotine, and being consumed when puffed. The above mentioned research studied the effect of this cigarette inhalation on smokers by collecting samples of 100 subject who were divided into five groups

  • Conventional cigarette smokers
  • Electronic cigarette smokers
  • Users of both types of cigarettes
  • Former smokers
  • Control group

It was seen that the microbiome of e-cigarettes had 8879 functionally annotated genes. Out of these it was discovered that a third of the genes were present in all kinds of smokers and ex-smokers. 1353 genes were unique and were resistant to antibiotics, stress response, cell wall, motility chemotaxis, membrane transport, horizontal gene transfer and iron acquisition.

On the contrary, existing cigarette smokers and non-smokers had only 15% genes similar to those of e-cigarette users. In the words of the research author, “E-cig users were functionally and taxonomically distinct from both smokers and nonsmokers”.

Could E-Cigarettes be Worse?

According to researchers, e-cigarettes can potentially cause worse damage than conventional cigarettes. Risks of acquiring periodontal diseases can be more when smoking an electronic cigarette.

According to Dr. Kumar and colleagues, “The risk for harm associated with e-cigs may be similar to or greater than smoking”. They have deduced that microbiome has an adverse effect on it when e-cig is used, unlike the use of tobacco. Their finding also stated that, “The similarity in the microbiomes of former, current, or never smokers who use e-cigs does not support the hypothesis that e-cigs promote harm reduction in cigarette smokers. The pathogen and virulence enrichment observed in clinically healthy individuals might augur the emergence of a new risk factor for periodontal disease”.

Hence it would be more appropriate to say that instead of being beneficial, e-cigarettes are more dangerous than conventional cigarettes.

April 6, 2017

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