Several months ago, I wrote a bog about E-Cigarettes. The point of my blog was to ponder whether or not E-cigarettes are as good as people say they are. Wouldn’t you know that several months later, the first studies are coming out that show e-cigarettes contain up to 10 times the amount of cancer-causing agents such as formaldehyde as regular tobacco. A team of researchers commissioned by Japan’s Health Ministry studied the vapour produced by e-cigarettes for signs of carcinogens, a media report said. The electronic devices — increasingly popular around the world, particularly among young people — function by heating flavoured liquid, which often contains nicotine, into a vapour that is inhaled, much like traditional cigarettes, but without the smoke. Researchers found carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in vapour produced by several types of e-cigarette liquid. Formaldehyde — a substance found in building materials and embalming fluids — was present at levels 10 times those found in the smoke from regular cigarettes. The researchers said that the findings show that e-cigarettes are not as harmless as some people believe them to be. Supporters of the device contend that using it is a safer alternative to smoking traditional tobacco which has been shown to cause a number of health maladies such as cancer, strokes and heart diseases and is considered to be among the leading causes of preventable deaths.
Now does that mean everyone needs to switch back to regular cigarettes? Not so fast. The research done by the Japanese researchers does not address all concerns. However, it’s not clear why the Japanese researchers chose to only talk about formaldehyde. Was it because out of all the chemicals the research team analyzed, formaldehyde was the only one present in “much higher levels” in e-cigarette vapor versus regular cigarette smoke? Or was it because formaldehyde is a familiar chemical name to many people? Maybe the team found several carcinogenic chemicals appear in higher concentrations in e-cig vapor than in tobacco smoke, but the AFP and JIJI chose not to talk about those findings. They might not have anticipated how hungry regular readers would be for those details. Previous studies have found that electronic cigarette vapor contains far fewer toxins than regular cigarette smoke. In fact, many scientists think that using e-cigarettes exclusively is likely less harmful than smoking an equivalent number of regular cigarettes.
What is the take away from this new research? There is big-picture message that there’s emerging evidence showing e-cigarettes have their own dangers. So be safe and be aware and make informed choices.