Amidst the debate on whether e-cigarettes help people quit smoking, a recent study published by researchers from the University of Rochester in the journal Plus One suggests that e-cigarettes are toxic to cells.

Researchers observed that the epithelial cells (layers of cells that line hollow organs and glands of human lungs) showed signs of severe inflammation (the body's natural immune response) and of reactive oxygen species which can harm the cells (the reason we take anti-oxidants). They also found that smoking e-cigarettes can induce stress and cause cell damage. Similar studies done with mice showed corroborating results.

The heating element of the e-cigarette turns the e-liquid solution into an aerosol to mimic cigarette smoke. Many studies including this have found that heavy metals and other possible carcinogens from these aerosols can reach farther into the lungs, cell systems and blood stream in the form of nanoparticles.

The authors have raised concerns about the metals and oxidants from e-cigarettes in their report to the Journal Environmental Pollution. They insist that e-cigarettes raise safety concerns as well as potential pollution hazards from second-hand exposures and disposal of e-cigarette waste.

According to Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Medicine at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry and the principal investigator of the study, "Several leading medical groups, organizations, and scientists are concerned about the lack of restrictions and regulations for e-cigarettes."  He went on to add: "Our research affirms that e-cigarettes may pose significant health risks and should be investigated further. It seems that every day a new e-cigarette product is launched without knowing the harmful health effects of these products."

American Society for Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research, two leading cancer organizations in the US, issued a joint statement proclaiming that e-cigarettes should be subjected to the same Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restrictions as tobacco until more research is done on its adverse effects.