UCF researchers discover new dangers of vaping

ORLANDO, Fla. — A University of Central Florida researcher has discovered that vaping creates chemical reactions in the mouth that can destroy good bacteria while increasing germs that cause cavities, gum disease and cellular changes that can lead to cancer.


Dr. Claudia Andl, of the UCF College of Medicine focuses her research on throat and mouth cancer and has broadened her efforts to help medicine better understand the dangers of vaping.

According to Andl, tooth decay can lead to inflammation and gum disease, which causes the gums to retract and the teeth to loosen and, if untreated, fall out.

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Changes in the mouth’s bacterial environment may also increase risks for cancer, another aspect of Dr. Andl’s research. Normally, when individuals have healthy immune systems, the body recognizes the bacteria and kills it.

But Dr. Andl’s research shows that vaping suppresses the signaling that activates immune system, allowing the Staph bacteria to grow.

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“When there is no signal saying ‘Go kill the bad guy’ Staph can colonize the oral cavity, leading to long-term inflammation and that inflammation is associated with cancer,” she explained.

While the vaping-cancer link has been suspected for some time, it has been difficult to prove in part because cancers take so long to develop and vaping has been a recent trend, especially among young people who may not develop cancer for years.

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Despite laws that outlaw selling e-cigarettes to minors, 1 in 10 young people under 18 use vapes, according to the FDA and CDC, and a quarter of those use the digital smoking devices daily.

Meanwhile, an estimated 20 million adults smoke e-cigarettes, many in an attempt to quit smoking tobacco.

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Michelle Shore, WFTV.com

Michelle Shore joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2023 as a Content Creator.