Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have completed a cross-sectional human study that compares biomarkers and metal concentrations in the urine of e-cigarette users, nonsmokers, and cigarette smokers.
They found that the biomarkers, which reflect exposure, effect, and potential harm, are both elevated in e-cigarette users compared to the other groups and linked to metal exposure and oxidative DNA damage.
Our study found e-cigarette users are exposed to increased concentrations of potentially harmful levels of metals -- especially zinc -- that are correlated to elevated oxidative DNA damage." Prue Talbot, professor of cell biology, University of California, Riverside
Zinc, a dietary nutrient, plays key roles in growth, immune function, and wound healing. Too little of this essential trace element can cause death; too much of it can cause disease. Its deficiency, as well as its excess, cause cellular oxidative stress, which, if unchecked, can lead to diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, pulmonary fibrosis, acute lymphoblastic leukemia , and lung cancer.
Electronic cigarettes consist of a battery, atomizing unit, and refill fluid. Metals in e-cigarette aerosols come mainly from the metal components in the atomizer-- nichrome wire, tin solder joints, brass clamps, insulating sheaths, and wicks -- as well as the e-fluids that the atomizers heat.
The study, which appears in BMJ Open Respiratory Research , marks the first time researchers have examined and quantified urinary biomarkers of effect and potential harm in relation to metals in e-cigarette users.
A biomarker is a quantifiable characteristic of a biological process. Biomarkers allow researchers and physicians to measure a biological or chemical substance that is indicative of a person's physiological state. Previous e-cigarette studies with humans have examined biomarkers of exposure -- for example, nicotine or nicotine metabolites -- but none have studied biomarkers of potential harm or shown how this harm correlates with metal exposure. Related Stories
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