A University of Southern California study published in February found vapers exhibit similar DNA changes to people who smoke cigarettes modifications commonly found in nearly all types of cancer.
The study examined the blood of a group of people, controlled for age, gender, and race, who were split equally into three categories. These were people who only vape; people who only smoke; and a control group of people who neither vape nor smoke.
The study also said the specific chemical alterations found known as “epigenetic changes” can cause genes to malfunction, and are commonly found in nearly all types of human cancer.
In an email sent to Business Insider, the study’s lead researcher, Ahmad Besaratinia, said the research “demonstrates, for the first time, biologically important molecular changes in blood cells of vapers, similarly to smokers.”
If the study’s findings are corroborated elsewhere, it could seriously damage a vaping industry already facing severe criticism and regulatory action.
But experts told Business Insider that widespread corroboration of the study’s findings may prove tricky for one simple reason. This is the fact many vapers are ex-smokers.