"Our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public," researchers said. Adding to growing evidence on the possible health risks of electronic cigarettes, a team at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System tested two products and found they damaged cells in ways that could lead to cancer.

The damage occurred even with nicotine-free versions of the products, researchers said. So far, evidence is limited on what exactly e-cigarettes contain and whether those chemicals are safe, particularly in terms of cancer.
    
"There haven't been many good lab studies on the effects of these products on actual human cells," said Dr Jessica Wang-Rodriquez, one of the lead researchers on the study, from the University of California, San Diego.
    
Her team created an extract from the vapour of two popular brands of e-cigarettes and used it to treat human cells in Petri dishes. Compared with untreated cells, the treated cells were more likely to show DNA damage and die.

The study was published in the journal Oral Oncology.

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