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Researchers: metals in e-cigarettes could damage users’ DNA

Researchers say levels of zinc in e-cigarettes pose serious health risks to consumers
Researchers say levels of zinc in e-cigarettes pose serious health risks to consumers (2014 Getty Images)

While e-cigarettes contain a number of harmful chemicals, researchers from the University of California Riverside have now found that they also have harmful levels of metals.

The main concern outlined in their research is the presence of high levels of zinc. Exposure to the metal can lead to several health concerns, including damage to a person’s DNA.

“Our study found that e-cigarette users are exposed to increased concentrations of potentially harmful levels of metals -- especially zinc -- that are correlated to oxidative DNA damage,” said researcher Prue Talbot.

The researchers tested 50 people for certain biomarkers, which allow researchers to measure a biological or chemical substance. The group was made up of cigarette smokers, e-cigarette smokers, and non-smokers so the researchers could assess how e-cigarettes affect people with different smoking habits.

All biomarkers were significantly elevated in e-cigarette users compared to the concentrations in cigarette smokers.

The study, which appears in BMJ Open Respiratory Research, marks the first time researchers have examined the effect and potential harm of metals in e-cigarette users.