Since their introduction to society and quick rise to popularity, e-cigarettes have been seen as a healthier substitution for traditional cigarettes, a tool in one’s efforts to quick smoking. However, experts are now warning that e-cigarettes carry a significant and previously overlooked risk of cancer.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard all the warnings regarding the use of traditional chemicals. When burned, experts warn that smokers are exposed to more than 7000 chemicals, threatening lung health and increasing our risk of cancer among other health concerns. This has led to the significant push for smokers to quit and improve their health, however, this isn’t easy, and many smokers rely on stop smoking aides. In fact, more than 80% of smokers believe that e-cigarettes can prove to be beneficial in their efforts to quit. However, do we know enough about these devices to make an educated decision?
A study out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory set out to better understand the potential risks from e-cigarette use. Researchers tested the vapors created by 3 popular e-cigarette liquids, discovering cancer-causing chemicals including propylene glycol and glycerin. Both identified chemicals have been classified by the FDA as ‘probably carcinogens’.
“Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you’re better off using e-cigarettes,” explained the study’s author Hugo Destaillats. “I would say, that may be true for certain users – for example, long-time smokers that cannot quit – but the problem is, it doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. Regular cigarettes are super unhealthy. E-cigarettes are just unhealthy.”
The study also revealed that the amount of chemicals emitted from the vaporizer increased when the vaporizer’s heating coil maintained a higher temperature. For this reason, vaporizes that used a single coil as opposed to two release a higher level of chemicals, as the chemical is required to heat up to a higher temperature in order to function. The study also found that the chemical levels released were not consistent throughout use, with each puff testing at varying levels.
These findings are in line with previous studies, warning about toxic chemicals emitted from the use of these devices. In 2009, the FDA warned e-cigarette users of the presence of diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze. The safety o the devices were then brought to light again in 2015 when researchers at the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that e-cigarettes emit formaldehyde, also a known carcinogen.
Experts warn that further research is required before we will fully understand the potential risks of e-cigarette use.