Vaping For Only A Few Months Increases the Risk of Cancer

People who vape for only a few months have an increased risk of developing cancer or gum disease, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances. In this study, participants’ oral bacteria composition resembled that of people with periodontitis, which is a risk factor for heart and lung disease. “Vaping is such a big assault on the oral environment, and the change happens dramatically and over a short period of time,” said Purnima Kumar, professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study in a press release. To conduct this study, researchers collated plaque samples from under the gums of 123 people who showed no current signs of oral disease: 25 smokers, 25 nonsmokers, 20 e-cigarette users, 25 former smokers using e-cigarettes and 28 people maintaining both cigarette smoking and vaping habits at the same time. Subsequently, the investigators conducted DNA deep sequencing of the bacteria genomes to identify not just the types of microbes living in those mouths, but also what their functions were. The profile of the oral microbiome in the vapers who had never smoked, who were young (age 21-35) and healthy and had used e-cigarettes for four to 12 months, were quite troubling to the researchers. The most concerning findings observed were the levels of stress in the microbial community, which were detected by the activation of genes that contribute to the creation of a mucus-like slime layer surrounding bacterial communities. The immune system is used to seeing assembled bacteria look like clearly defined communities, but Kumar said that in e-cigarette users, these communities cloaked in slime resemble foreign invaders and trigger a destructive inflammatory response. She said this change in the microbial landscape – accompanied by higher levels of proteins in vapers’ mouths that signaled the immune system was on standby to activate and produce inflammation – exponentially increases the likelihood for disease.   “The reason we’re all healthy is because our immune system has recognized these bacteria and their functions since birth and has established a sense of harmony,” Kumar said. “The problem is when you throw a curve ball with an environmental shift like this, your immune system doesn’t recognize the bacteria as friends anymore. You have to call the police on them, and that causes a huge inflammatory response.” Kumar added: “I’m not saying nicotine is good for you. But even without the nicotine, vaping has a pretty large impact on the bacterial communities our bodies have regarded as friends.”