Japanese scientists announced that e-cigarettes contain 10 times the level of cancer-causing carcinogens than its counterpart in the tobacco world. At one time, e-cigarettes were touted as the answer to smoking without the complication of so many dangers.
The electronic nicotine products have increased in popularity with many believing that they are receiving a hit of nicotine without the health damage of a normal cigarette, laden with chemicals.
However, the research commissioned by the Japanese Ministry of Health found formaldehyde and acetaldehyde carcinogens in the liquid produced by a number of e-cigarette products, a health ministry official stated.
The group also learned that e-cigarettes can fuel potentially life-threatening drug-resistant pathogens. This is based on lab study where they tested e-cigs vapor on live methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and human cells.
The formaldehyde carcinogen was found to be much more present in the e-cigarette liquids than in the chemicals used in regular cigarettes, according to the official.
“In one brand of e-cigarette the team found more than 10 times the level of carcinogens contained in one regular cigarette,” said researcher Naoki Kunugita.
“Especially when the wire (which vaporizes the liquid) gets overheated, higher amounts of those harmful substances seemed to be produced.”
However, Kunugita added that the levels of the formaldehyde carcinogen fluctuated in the final results.
“You call them e-cigarettes, but they are products totally different from regular tobacco,” the Japanese health ministry official said.
“The government is now studying the possible risks associated with them, with view to looking at how they should be regulated.”
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors because of the “serious threat” posed to them.
The UN health agency said that despite the lack of evidence on the damage caused by e-cigarettes, there was enough “to caution children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age” about their use, adding that they should be outlawed from indoor public spaces.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “More than a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013, according to a CDC study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. This number reflects a three-fold increase, from about 79,000 in 2011, to more than 263,000 in 2013.”
by Gregg Prescott, M.S.
This seems to be a very controversial article. I honestly can’t confirm or deny the above article but what I do know is that I’ve tried vaping with several different brands and strengths, and it always made my chest feel very constricted.
Is it possible that this article is research provided by Big Tobacco? Possibly. Is it possible that this article isn’t funded by Big Tobacco? Possibly.
What the article lacks is which brands were being tested and the ingredients of each brand. It would be interesting to see if organic brands gave similar results or not.
There’s an article entitled, “Do E-Cigarettes Really Create 10 Times More Carcinogens Than Regular Cigarettes?“, which gives an opposing view on this article, concluding that we may not know the risks/advantages of vaping for another generation.
The article stated:
“It’s plausible that e-cigarettes have their own particular dangers. That can be true even while e-cigarettes are, in general, less dangerous than traditional tobacco smoking. The big-picture message that there’s emerging evidence showing e-cigarettes have their own dangers. It may be another generation yet before we have as strong of science about e-cigarettes’ risks as we do for tobacco smoking. Meanwhile, it’s helpful to have studies like the Japanese one.”
The following is from WebMD:
What’s in Your E-Cigarette?
No federal agency oversees the e-cigarette industry. That means no standards exist. Labels may inaccurately describe ingredients, and what you find in one brand may be vastly different from that found in another, for better or worse.
The results of one FDA review of 18 different e-cigarette cartridges found toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in some but not others. All but one of the cartridges labeled “no nicotine” did, in fact, contain nicotine. The authors suggest that “quality control processes used to manufacture these products are inconsistent or non-existent.”
Here’s some of what we do know.
The E-Liquid: E-liquid, or e-juice, is the name for the solution that’s heated up and converted to an aerosol, which e-cigarette users inhale. Here are its most common ingredients:
Nicotine: The addictive ingredient in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes, nicotine stimulates the central nervous system and raises blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. “People smoke because of the nicotine,” says researcher Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD. He’s a tobacco and e-cigarette expert at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.
While it’s addictive, nicotine doesn’t cause cancer, says Goniewicz: “What causes concern are the other chemicals (in the e-liquid).”
Flavorings: Goniewicz says hundreds of flavors exist, including cherry, cheesecake, cinnamon, and tobacco. Many of those flavoring chemicals, he says, are also used to flavor food.
It would be impossible to list all the various flavoring chemicals here, but one such chemical, diacetyl, is commonly used to add buttery flavor to popcorn. It’s been linked to obstructive lung disease when inhaled. Other chemicals that add buttery flavor might be harmful as well, says Neal Benowitz, MD. He’s a former member of the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.
Propylene glycol (PG): PG is a lab-made liquid that the FDA generally views as safe in food, drugs, and cosmetics. It’s also used to make artificial smoke or fog for rock concerts and other performances. It can irritate the lungs and eyes and may be more harmful for people with chronic lung diseases like asthma and emphysema.
Glycerin: Odorless and colorless, liquid glycerin has a slightly sweet taste. Like PG, the FDA generally views it as safe. It’s found in many products, including food and drugs, both prescription and over the counter.
While both PG and glycerin are safe in food and drugs, Goniewicz says, “we don’t know what happens if someone inhales large amounts of these chemicals over the long term. This is really unknown.”
Toxic chemicals are formed as the e-liquid heats up to make the aerosol that e-cig users inhale. Some of these chemicals can cause inflammation and blood vessel damage responses, says Benowitz, who’s also a professor at the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine. “In most preparations, they are much lower than you find in cigarette smoking, but they are of concern, no question about it,” he says.
Those chemicals include:
Formaldehyde: A probable carcinogen.
Acetaldehyde: Another probable carcinogen.
Acrolein: Formed from heated glycerin, acrolein can damage the lungs and contribute to heart disease in smokers.
All three are released in increasing amounts as the temperature of the e-liquid rises. And, says Benowitz, users may be tempted to go for those higher temperatures.
“Unfortunately, the higher you heat the liquid, the more nicotine you get from it,” he says. “People who want to get a big dose of nicotine may use really high voltage batteries or an adjustable voltage battery.”
Goniewicz says flavors might mask the unpleasant taste that results when users heat their e-cigarettes to the point at which formaldehyde is made.
Are E-Cigarettes Safe?
“It’s all relative to cigarette smoking,” Benowitz says. “Based on what we know now, they are much less hazardous than regular cigarettes.”
I also found an article where it was determined that the voltage of the battery affects the amount of carcinogens inhaled.
The following is from the article, “Study: High Voltage and Formaldehyde Output From E-Cigs” which is based on research from MIT:
The researchers used a variable-voltage eGo style battery and a standard, top-coil clearomizer for the testing, both of which were popular in Poland and obtained online. The clearomizer had a resistance of 2.4 ohms, and the main set of tests was conducted with the batteries set to 3.4 volts. The batteries were charged before each test, and replaced with a new battery when the charge level dropped below 50 percent.
They tested ten different liquids, in addition to three “control” solutions made without flavorings. The 10 commercial liquids were primarily tobacco-flavored options (with “Sunny Banana” being the only obviously non-tobacco liquid, and also the only one in 24 mg/ml), with varying PG/VG ratios and some reporting more ingredients than others. The control liquids were made with small amounts of nicotine, water, and then either PG, VG or a 50/50 mix of both. In addition to the main tests on the commercial liquids, nine combinations of voltages (3.2, 4 and 4.8 volts) and the three control liquids were used to investigate the impact of voltage and base composition on carbonyl production.
The vaping was done by a smoking machine, which took 15 puffs of 1.8 seconds in length (a volume of 70 ml) with an inter-puff interval of 17 seconds; roughly speaking, a 2-second puff every 20 seconds. The batteries were manual, so were activated by a researcher one second before the machine took a puff and released it as soon as it was finished. Each device was used for two testing runs, with a five minute interval between them.
PG-Based Liquids Produce More Carbonyls Than VG-Based Liquids
For the ten general-sale liquids, the tests were all conducted at 3.4 volts, and the results show that vapers under these conditions are exposed to only very small levels of toxic chemicals. The highest quantities found of these two chemicals were 59 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per 15 puffs (taken as “one cigarette” of usage) for formaldehyde, and 107 ng per 15 puffs for acetaldehyde. The lower end for cigarettes has been quoted (in previous research by the same authors) 1.6 μg (millionths of a gram: so this is equal to 1,600 ng) per cigarette for formaldehyde and 52 μg (52,000 ng) per cig for acetaldehyde. This is a comparison between the worst-case findings for e-cigs and the best-case findings for cigarettes, and the conclusion is unavoidable: e-cigarettes drastically reduce exposure to toxic chemicals.
There was at least one carbonyl in each liquid tested, but the most common were formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone and butanal. Acrolein wasn’t detected in any of the samples, and many of the remaining chemicals were only found in quantities big enough to actually measure on rare occasions. For instance, crotonaldehyde was only found in one e-liquid and benzaldehyde only in three. Generally speaking, VG-based liquids have lower levels of and fewer detectable carbonyls. Interestingly, one liquid which included 40 percent PEG (polyethylene glycol) only had butanal present, with all other chemicals either not detected or below the limit of measurement.
The experimentation with different voltages and the flavor-free e-liquids created the headline findings, though. The researchers looked at formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone content after 15 puffs at various voltages, for PG, PG/VG and VG liquids. The graphs show pretty clearly, as would be expected because more power is delivered, that larger voltages generally increase the quantities of these chemicals. However, the only statistically significant increases (meaning those where it’s possible to rule out chance variation with reasonable confidence) were obtained in the tests at 4.8 volts. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde were found in quantities that averaged between 13 and 807 times lower than those found in a conventional cigarette at the lower voltages (all apart from 4.8 V).
The most dramatic change was in formaldehyde content, which (for the PG/VG liquid) increased from 0.13 to 27 μg. This liquid had the biggest change observed, the PG-only one went from 0.53 to 17.6 μg and the VG-only one went from 0.02 to 0.15 μg per 15 puffs. It appears from this that PG, as suspected, is the main cause of the formaldehyde detected in e-cigarettes, and the same basic theme extends to acetaldehyde and acetone. However, the mixed PG/VG base produced more acetone than the PG-only mixture, and the only statistically significant increase in acetaldehyde production between 3.2 V and 4.8 V was for the VG liquid, which rose from 0.17 μg to 1.24 μg per 15 puffs. Generally, the level of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone increased by between 4 to 200 times as the voltage was pushed from 3.2 to 4.8 V.
What it Means: Unrealistic Vaping Conditions Produce More Toxic Components
The headlines relating to this study invariably focus on the fact that the level of formaldehyde produced by 15 puffs of the PG or PG/VG based liquids tested at 4.8 V was within the per-cigarette range of 1.6 to 52 μg. It’s important to note that (although the numerical values weren’t provided) the graph shows that there was very little increase when the voltage was changed to 4 volts, so it’s only in the very high voltage condition where the levels rose to cigarette-like levels. Since the value found for the PG/VG liquid was comfortably within the range, the authors point out that at 4.8 V, vaping could even expose users to more formaldehyde than smoking.
According to the above MIT study, you should be cognizant about the voltage of your e-cig battery. Higher voltages were determined to create more carcinogens.
In a world where everything seems upside down and backwards, who knows what to believe anymore? I would imagine that organic vaping would be your “best” choice but ultimately, your best bet is to not smoke at all but if you decide to smoke, always question everything!