Reproductive biologist Dr. Ali Honaramooz and his research team, are designing an experiment allowing researchers to identify and study the effects of e-cigarette use on the health and development of testis tissue, in detail. Inspired by figures released by Health Canada in 2020, claiming that teen vaping tripled between 2014 and 2019, the study aims to look into the the effects of vaping on teenage reproductive health development.
„I usually look for important, everyday applied or clinical questions that can be answered using my specialty and the study tools that we have at our disposal,“ said Honaramooz. „As a father of three teenagers, I feel this research may help shed light on some aspects of e-cigarettes that are not sufficiently studied and may help to inform young individuals and their parents, as well as practitioners and policy makers.“
The study author says that calling e-cigs „less harmful“ is misleading
The researcher said that expectant mothers tended to defend their use of these products as a healthy alternative to conventional cigarettes in their survey responses. However he added, “the use of the word ‚healthier‘ in this context, as if it is synonymous with ‚less harmful,“ is misleading if not deceitful. In the absence of evidence, the premise for claiming e-cigarettes as being less harmful than smoking is shaky.“
Meanwhile, contradicting Honaramooz’s claims, there are actually countless peer reviewed studies indicating that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than combustible tobacco products. Infact, a recent report by Public Health England (PHE) not only reaffirmed that vaping is relatively safer, but also that it is a gateway out of smoking.
However Honaramooz says that since unlike other vital body systems that are fully developed at birth, the reproductive system remains purposely underdeveloped until puberty, it is left susceptible to interference by carcinogens. In order to determine any possible negative effects via vaping, the biologist and his team have regenerated functional testis tissue from stem cells by modifying the testis cell aggregate implantation technique.
Exposing testis cells to possible carcinogens
Subsequently, they plan to introduce a number of possible carcinogens, a plan which includes exposing the cells to e-cig vapour in order to study its effects on the live tissue directly and in real time. „You see, toxicology is all about dose. … At reasonably relevant doses, I probably expect to see subtle changes such as in gene expression and possibly cell behavior,“ said Honaramooz. „Again, the effects do not necessarily have to be significant or visible to cause major functional consequences. … [Even subtle differences] can lead to carcinoma and germ cell testicular cancer.“
In the meantime, Honaramooz warns consumers to be wary of products marketed as healthy, especially where common sense suggests otherwise. „My own advice is to stick with what has worked over millions of years of evolution: the basic, unaltered primary food and drink items in their natural and non-modified form—just as we follow manufacturer’s instructions in choosing the fuel for our cars.“
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