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Study finds electronic cigarettes damage brain stem cells

Study finds electronic cigarettes damage brain stem cells

Researchers in the United States have found that electronic cigarettes, or ECs, produce a stress response in brain stem cells. Stem cells are those that become specialised cells with more specific functions, such as brain cells, blood cells. ECs are nicotine-delivery devices that aerosolize nicotine and flavour chemicals through heating.

Although originally introduced as safer and often targeted at youth and pregnant women, they are not harmless, said researchers from the University of California. Even short-term exposure can stress cells in a manner that may lead, with chronic use, to cell death or disease.  The high levels of nicotine in ECs lead to a nicotine flooding of special receptors in the neural stem cell membrane.

Nicotine binds to these receptors, causing them to open up. Calcium and other ions begin to enter the cell, and eventually, a calcium overload follows. Researchers explained that too much calcium in the mitochondria is harmful.  The researchers said that youth and pregnant women need to pay especially close attention to their results.

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