However, he does believe that vaping is harmful overall.
The former head of the Food and Drug Administration says that he is “skeptical” that vaping can cause lung cancer, despite a research paper released last week that indicated that vaping nicotine increases lung cancer risk.
“It Might Be A Tumor Promoter”
Scott Gottlieb, a physician who led the FDA from 2017 until April of this year, made his comments during an appearance on Squawk Box last Monday (Oct. 14), CNBCreported.
“I’m skeptical that nicotine causes cancer,” he said. “It might be a tumor promoter, [researchers] have said that there’s a potential that nicotine is a tumor promoter, but it doesn’t cause cancer.”
Tumor promotion is a process that stimulates the growth of existing tumors, but does not cause new tumors to form, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Gottlieb did not say why he believed that vaping nicotine could be a tumor promoter, but not cause cancer. However, he did emphasize that he believes vaping is harmful overall.
“That said, we had a signal when I was at the FDA of damage that vaping was causing to the lungs in an animal study,” he said. “You can’t inhale something into the lungs that way on a repeated basis and not cause some damage to the lung.”
What About The Vaping Mice?
Gottlieb was responding to a study published last week that found that vaping caused lung cancer in mice. The study found that 22.5% of mice that were exposed to e-cigarette vapor with nicotine for 54 weeks developed lung cancer. More than 57% of the mice developed pre-cancerous lesions on their bladder.
However, there was a small silver lining: mice that were exposed to e-cigarette vapor that did not have any nicotine did not develop cancer, even when they were followed for four years.
More Studies Needed
Lead study author Moon-Shong Tang said the study showed that vapes were potentially dangerous and needed to be studied more carefully for their cancer risk in humans.
“Tobacco smoke is among the most dangerous environmental agents to which humans are routinely exposed, but the potential of E-cig smoke as a threat to human health is not yet fully understood,” he said in a news release. “Our study results in mice were not meant to be compared to human disease, but instead argue that E-cig smoke must be more thoroughly studied before it is deemed safe or marketed that way.”
In an interview with CNBC, Tang said, “It’s foreseeable that if you smoke e-cigarettes, all kinds of disease comes out [over time]. Long term, some cancer will come out, probably. E-cigarettes are bad news.”