A review study shows e-cigarette users can have up to six substances with a strong link to bladder cancer in their urine. Researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and NYU Langone Health reported the findings. They analyzed multiple studies that looked at urine of people who used e-cigarettes and sometimes other tobacco products. The study was published in the journal European Urology Oncology.
22 Studies Analyzed
The researchers analyzed 22 studies that looked at urine of people who used e-cigarettes or other tobacco products, including cigarettes. They looked for biomarkers or compounds that have a strong link to bladder cancer. They found six such compounds.
“Smoking is the No.1 modifiable behavioral risk factor for bladder cancer,” said Marc Bjurlin, one of the researchers.
“There is now evolving literature showing that people who vape may have similar carcinogens in their urine as combustible cigarette users,” he said.
Long-Term Effects of E-Cigarettes
There are already health warnings that vaping and e-cigarette use can lead to lung and pulmonary injury. However, the occurrance of cancer is often after long-term use and the side-effects come much later down the line. The researchers wanted to look at the long-term risk, including cancer, from use e-cigarettes.
In the review study, the researchers found 40 different parent compounds that can be processed in the body to produce 63 different toxic chemicals or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) metabolites. Metabolites are substances that remain in the body after they are metabolized.
Vapers Are Exposed to Variety of Carcinogens
Of all these compounds, six of the chemicals have a strong link to bladder cancer, according to the researchers’ analysis of carcinogens databases of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment Toxicant and Disease Database.
“This finding shows us that people who vape will be exposed to a variety of different carcinogens,” Bjurlin said.
“People who have decades of exposure to these carcinogens from vaping may be at risk for developing malignancies, especially bladder cancer,” he said.
The study did have several limitations. The studies that were analyzed did not have the levels of these chemicals in the urine. There were also people who vaped and smoked at the same time. Still, there were other people who started off with cigarettes and then switched to e-cigarettes. This made it difficult to ascertain if the cancer-causing chemicals in the urine came from the e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes.
“Although there is no definitive case yet linking bladder cancer to vaping, it may be reasonable to suspect that decades down the road after exposure to these byproducts, people who vape may be at risk of developing bladder cancer,” Bjurlin said.