St George’s leads the first study to closely follow toxicity markers in smokers who replace tobacco for e-cigarettes.

Researchers at St George’s, University of London, in collaboration with Public Health England, are looking at markers of toxicity and addiction when heavy cigarette smokers switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
Although e-cigarette aerosol does not contain many of the harmful chemicals present in tobacco smoke, it does typically contain nicotine, flavourings, propylene glycol and other chemicals.

As well as investigating the changes in markers of toxicity including tobacco-specific nitrosamines and modification of DNA, the researchers will be looking at the effect of replacing tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes on brain activity stress hormones and epigenetic markers, as well as on general quality of life indicators such as anxiety, sleep and moods.

Dr Alexis Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Neuropharmacology at St. George’s, University of London, is leading the study.

The pilot study is part of the EU’s £3.4 mn SmokeFreeBrain project which is using researchers in different countries to examine different ways to stop smoking for good.

The study at St George’s is being carried out in collaboration with Public Health England.

Dr Bailey said: “E-cigarettes have proved enormously popular, partly because of the harm reduction compared with smoking traditional cigarettes however there is still considerable debate in the scientific community over just how much safer they are and how good they are for smoking cessation. So it is imperative for us to look at the science behind this and get the full toxicological picture.”