Vaping & cancer link: The new danger

E-cigarettes, vapes, Juuls -- they go by many names -- but since their debut in the U.S. marketplace in 2007, they have become increasingly popular, especially among young people.

One in 10 people under 18 vapes and a quarter of those young people vape daily. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 3 million middle and high school students vaped in 2022.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine and have been linked to lung and cardiovascular diseases. But now, a University of Central Florida researcher has discovered that vaping could also increase your risk for oral cancer.

“After exposure to e-cigarette vaping, that was independent of nicotine or nicotine content, a lot of the bacteria, the ‘good’ bacteria, die,” explained Claudia Andl, an associate professor of medicine at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida.

This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Andl’s research focuses on bacteria that are found in the skin that can cause illness or death if they get into the bloodstream. Usually, when someone has a healthy immune system, it kills the bacteria, but Andl’s research suggests that vaping compromises that response, allowing the bacteria to grow.

“Hopefully, with some of the recent research that we have published -- and others -- overall, it will lead to more awareness, and hopefully, it will change some of the policy-making,” Andl said.

If you are a parent or guardian and you suspect your child or teen is vaping, or interested in vaping, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest learning about the risks, setting a good example, adopting tobacco-free rules, and letting your child or teen know that you want them to stay away from tobacco.