First Study of E-Cigarettes Reveals Gum Tissue Damage

Many younger smokers have switched to e-cigarettes because they believe them to be a healthier alternative. However, an October article published in the journal Oncotarget showed that the vapors and flavoring present in e-cigarettes could damage the cells located in gums and the oral cavity.

Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., a professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, led the research. Last year, Rahman published a study on the effects e-cigarettes have on lung cells. The National Institutes of Health funded this study.

Testing the effects of e-cigarettes required exposing a 3D model of human, non-smoker gum tissue to the different flavors available to smokers. The authors used a BLU rechargeable e-cigarette and two different flavors: classic tobacco and magnificent menthol. The research showed that both flavors inflame the gum cell and negatively effect cell regeneration. The menthol flavor was shown to do more damage than the classic tobacco flavor.

The authors seek to continue their work with long-term research to see if e-cigarettes can potentially lead to periodontitis (gum disease) through increased usage.

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How Is Tobacco a THREAT TO ORAL HEALTH?

Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7