The US team led by Dr Moon-shong Tang, from New York University School of Medicine, warn that "vapers" may be increasing their risk of life-threatening conditions.
For another part of the experiment, the scientists exposed cultured human cells to large quantities of nicotine in a lab and found similar effects on DNA damage and fix. However, the results of this study may take several years to determine.
"The results suggest that whilst some people switch from smoking to vaping quickly and completely, others have a longer transition". It's also important to remember that when you smoke a conventional cigarette, you are inhaling this nicotine along with a lethal cocktail of carbon monoxide and at least 70 known cancer-causing chemicals.
For people who use vaping to wean themselves off smoking, that uncertainty might be a perfectly fine thing to live with - a smaller cancer risk is still better than nothing.
The study was carried out by testing the effects of e-cigarette vapours on healthy mice and human cells, which means further studies will be required in order to determine if e-cigarettes can harm human organs similarly. They are often deemed the "safe" alternative to cigarettes and recent analysis has also shown that people who vape contain 97% less of the lung carcinogen NNAL in their lungs than regular smokers.
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This is avoided in e-cigarettes, with nicotine delivered through aerosols without burning tobacco. A study in mice, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is sure to provide fodder for both sides. Natural DNA fix mechanisms were also suppressed in the mice exposed to the smoke.
That is similar to the level in those on nicotine-replacement therapy.
Youth charity Fast Forward said some adults think they are "doing young people a favour" when buying them tobacco. The findings of the study by itself are neither conclusive. Kadimisetty said, "I never expected the DNA damage from e-cigarettes to be equal to tobacco cigarettes".
While tobacco smoke contains a host of potentially unsafe chemicals, e-cigarette vapour consists only of nicotine and some relatively harmless organic solvents.
The number of young people smoking in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level since surveys began, after measures such as banning tobacco advertising, price increases and raising the age of purchasing cigarettes to 18.