The risk that both tobacco and electronic cigarettes can pose to regular smokers’ health has been well documented, but a new UCLA study illustrates just how quickly vaping can affect the cells of even healthy younger nonsmokers.
The findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, show that a single 30-minute vaping session can significantly increase cellular oxidative stress, which occurs when the body has an imbalance between free radicals — molecules that can cause damage to cells — and antioxidants, which fight free radicals.
For the current study, 32 male and female study participants, who ranged in age from 21 to 33, were divided into three groups: 11 nonsmokers, nine regular tobacco cigarette smokers and 12 regular e-cigarette smokers. The researchers collected immune cells from each individual before and after a half-hour vaping session to measure and compare changes in oxidative stress among the groups.
The researchers performed the same process during a control session in which participants spent 30 minutes “sham-vaping,” or puffing on an empty straw.
They found that in nonsmokers, oxidative stress levels were two to four times higher after the vaping session than before. The same 30-minute exposure did not lead to an increase in oxidative stress among the regular cigarette and e-cigarette smokers, the researchers noted, most likely because their baseline levels of oxidative stress were already elevated.