Summary: A researcher from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine has found that vaping may disrupt oral health by destroying beneficial bacteria in the mouth while increasing harmful germs that cause cavities, gum disease, and potentially cancer. The study found that the antimicrobial effect of e-cigarette liquid creates an environment where healthy bacteria struggle to grow, but harmful bacteria thrive.
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Vaping’s Impact on Oral Health: May Destroy Good Bacteria and Promote Disease
A researcher from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine has found that vaping can disrupt oral health by creating chemical reactions in the mouth that can destroy beneficial bacteria while increasing harmful germs that cause cavities, gum disease, and cellular changes that can lead to cancer. Despite laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, one in ten young people under 18 use vapes, according to the FDA and CDC, and a quarter of those use the devices daily. Meanwhile, an estimated 20 million adults smoke e-cigarettes, many in an attempt to quit smoking tobacco.
The research, led by Claudia Andl, an associate professor in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, focuses on how vape devices affect bacterial communities in the mouth. She found that the combination of high heat and chemicals from vape ingredients often disrupts the natural bacterial balance in the mouth. The antimicrobial effect of the e-cigarette liquid creates an environment where healthy bacteria have trouble growing, but harmful bacteria are not affected and have more room to take over.
This change in the mouth’s bacterial environment can be dangerous for oral health. Tooth decay can lead to inflammation and gum disease, which causes the gums to retract and the teeth to loosen and, if untreated, fall out. Changes in the mouth’s bacterial environment may also increase risks for cancer, another aspect of Andl’s research. While the vaping-cancer link has been suspected for some time, it has been difficult to prove—in part because cancers take so long to develop and vaping has been a recent trend, especially among young people who may not develop cancer for years.
Andl is also investigating whether vaping encourages cells to take on characteristics that increase their likelihood of becoming cancerous. She is looking at different cell markers that are known to contribute to cancer to see if chemicals in vaping encourage cells in the mouth to acquire what she calls “the hallmarks of cancer.”
Andl hopes her research, published in Cells and Microbiology Spectrum, will help the medical community continue to fight against vaping—especially for the young. “I hope this will bring more awareness that vaping does harm and carries a risk,” says Andl, who has two teenagers, one in high school and the other a college freshman. “Especially for those middle and high schoolers who still have a long lifetime to develop cancer. They should understand the risks they are taking now.”[Source: Medical Xpress]
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