Study: Some E-Cigs Put Out Tobacco-Like Levels Of Carcinogens

Study: Some E-Cigs Put Out Tobacco-Like Levels of Carcinogens

An upcoming study in the peer-reviewed journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research says that some tank-style e-cigarettes emit cancer-causing formaldehyde in their vapour at levels similar to traditional tobacco cigarettes. The New York Times, which revealed the findings ahead of publication, says a second study confirms the results.

The problem seems to be that some tank-style e-cigarettes (the larger, refillable style that vapourise liquid nicotine) get so hot, they cause formaldehyde to form in the vapor they put out.

The finding comes on the heels of the FDA's proposal to regulate e-cigs under the same rules as traditional combustible tobacco. However, those proposed rules would focus on the ingredients that go into e-cig juice, not on the chemical makeup of the vapor that comes out. So far, e-cig emissions (the content of the vapor they produce) is an unregulated area.

It's a complicated area of study, in part because there are so many various manufacturers of e-cigs, and the products are largely non-standardized. One of the studies, performed at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, found that levels of carcinogens increased markedly when the battery output of the tank-style e-cigs was boosted from 3.2 volts to 4.8 volts.

Then there's the way that consumers use e-cigs: the higher heat that scientists say creates carcinogens also produces more potent vapor. Many e-cig tinkerers boost the heat output of their devices, or dribble liquid nicotine directly on the heating element for a more intense vapor. The researchers say dripping puts out carcinogen levels that approach the concentration found in old-fashioned cigarettes.

Dr. Alan Shihadeh at the Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, who led one of the studies, acknowledged that while the e-cig study only examined a handful of carcinogens, traditional cigarettes put out dozens of cancer-causing compounds. As he told The New York Times:

If I was in a torture chamber and you said I had to puff on something, I'd choose an e-cigarette over a regular cigarette. But if you said I could choose an e-cigarette or clean air, I'd definitely choose clean air. And I definitely wouldn't drip.

The studies will be published beginning May 15th. Until then, maybe you should hold off on the heavy-duty vaping. E-cigs may not be exactly the same as the dead leaves Don Draper smoked, but this particular similarity isn't all that enticing. [NYT]

E-cigarettes are not prohibited in Australia, although they are not allowed to advertise or suggest any therapeutic benefit. It's important to note that liquid nicotine, as used in e-cigarette atomisers, is classified as a Schedule 7 poison, like arsenic and chlorine. Contact Quitline for more information on how to get help quitting cigarettes.



    Cigarette or e-cigarette, same thing. Smoking is horrible and the same standards for e-cigarettes should be applied as for cigarettes. Part of banning cigarettes is to stop smoking being 'normal' and I think its working. Seriously, do you want you kids and loved ones to smoke?

      Doesn't matter. Don't put your values on others. I think it's disgusting but what's more disgusting is feeling you can judge other people for it. They are also actually in MANY ways NOT the "same thing" despite both being bad for you in varying degrees.

        Smoking is killing people. Smoking and cigarettes was a very bad idea. If smoking did not exist today and B&H put forward a new product that delivered nicotine to people via smoking dried tobacco plant through a paper straw they would be laughed out of the room. If possible governments would have banned it years ago. I do judge people for the poor life choice that smoking is and I don't apologise for that.

        Every day when I don't smell a smoker or see a smoker is a good day.

        Last edited 06/05/14 6:54 am

          Driving nails through your genitals sounds like a bad idea to me. But if that's someone's thing then I have no right to stop them. It isn't government's role to regulate people's private behaviour. As long as:
          1) the taxes on the product cover the future cost to the public and
          2) people are prohibited from selling to children
          3) The consequences are well known and publicised

          the rest isn't the government's business. Adults are allowed to make choices to their own detriment.

          Its a good day when I don't hear a simple-minded opinion spouted with an level of confidence that is not proportional to the amount of thought put into the opinion.

          Last edited 06/05/14 12:09 pm

            What about in Third world countries where people don't know any better? Where -

            1) the taxes on the product don't cover the future cost to the public and
            2) people are not prohibited from selling to children and
            3) The consequences are not well known and publicised

            Like my opinion or not we are headed for a time in Australia where the only place you can smoke will be at home and I think thats a good thing.

            Last edited 06/05/14 2:25 pm

              Third world countries problems are best dealt with by their governments. We shouldn't be undermining the sovereignty of other countries. They should focus on educating people.. including formal schooling and empowering women to make reproductive choices. These are the best ways to alleviate poverty in the long term without treating people like retards. They definitely shouldn't be empowering their governments to be more paternalistic and dictatorial... Witha few exceptions centralised power and the reduction of personal freedoms hasn't got a great record of success in the third world. China is one exception though personally I'd sacrifice a lot of economic affluence to keep my personal freedom.

              You are right. This is where we are heading in Australia unfortunately. People have become accustomed to relinquishing their agency and letting the government decide how they should act. As someone who has lived under a dictatorship and knows how an incremental surrender of freedoms leads to it, I find this very sad indeed. To me this is a small step along the road that leads to letting the government decide which books are beneficial to you and which are not (and should therefore be forbidden).

              PS - I'm not a smoker. I think its a self-destructive habit that no longer appeals to me.

              Last edited 07/05/14 4:28 pm

          If some one only just invented the car today it would be banned. Its to dangerous and pollutes to much.

          Judging someone who uses an e cig to get off tobacco is like making fun of a fat person for going to the gym. You are as ignorant as they come buddy

      Sorry derekaw. Right off the start your opening statement is so incorrect and couldn't be further from the truth. Cigarettes do not equal e-cigarettes. They are not the same. One produces smoke the other produces vapor. One contains mostly tobacco, the other has no tobacco or any leafy substance. This difference is significant in the fact of the amount of toxins and carcinogens released by burning tobacco vs. vaporizing 4 key ingredients in e-cigs. And I hate to break it to you, 3 of the 4 ingredients are things you eat or drink each and every day and they are deemed safe by all government agencies of all countries. The only ingredient you do not ingest that is one of the 4 ingredients in e-cigs is nicotine.

        actually Giovanni99 your're even farther from the truth. e-cigarettes vapor contain almost the same chemical compound as cigarettes. the highly concentrated amount of nicotine has the same effect as tobacco cigarettes. also i hate to break it to you it is also also contains the same substances that cause all types of cancer. and the vapor produced can put people at risk of second hand smoke. also your sick for calling people without doing your homework on e-cigarettes. ;)

      Derek... funny how when it's something you agree with you want everyone to stay out of it,
      "Cycle licences? Your kidding. If you ride a bike in Sydney then its at your own risk. It would be a horrible knee jerk policy"

      Check out your Twitter feed.. you are one miserable opinionated SOB. Full of piss and vinegar, nothing of value to say.

      So tell me besides the way any of it looks how are Cigarettes and E-cigarettes they the same?

    I don't give a shit about anybody that smokes and the dangers that may come with it. I don't even care about second hand smoke dangers (for me) It's the SMELL! I care about how much they stink, and how they make everything around them stink. That's the only thing i don't like.

    That's why I'd take e-cigs over normal any other day.

    Last edited 05/05/14 11:07 pm

    I used e cigarettes to help quitting smoking. Knowing from the outset that it would be temporary and it worked really well. That and patches. Covering my bases but it did work. They are not even close to being like smoking a cigarette except for the physical object part and a bit of vapour. I tried several and they were all pretty pathetic I thought. As a quitting aid I think it's great. As an alternative to smoking long term, not so much. But yeah they don't smell, can use them anywhere, are cheaper but I seriously doubt anyone would think it healthy.

    There are so many studies that show E-Cigs are not where near as bad as this study, which has a flawed method of testing if you care to read it. Other studies have shown the levels carcinogens and other chemicals are so low it's hard to define if they are from the e-cig or from what we naturally breath out.

    E-Cig's, though I'm sure you don't care, do not have the same smells as smoking, second hand vapour is also proven to be harmless.

    I loved smoking, but I hated getting up every morning feeling like shit, smelling gross, and being unable to breath after any strenuous activity. Now I'm active and better for it, whilst enjoying the best parts of my previous smoking habit.

    I'm 50/50 if E-cigs were banded, if I would go back to smoking. Sure big tobacco and government would love me to smoke, but my friends and family would hate it.

    All you need is a psychiatrist to get you past your oral fixation.

    Wow, is all I can say to this dribble. E liquid is comprised of vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, flavor extracts and nicotine. Dripping isn't putting nicotine into a coil, it is building your own coil to make something more satisfactory for how you want to vape. The CDC and many peer reviewed studies ACTUALLY say that the contaminants found in vapor from E cigarettes are exactly the same as in the air you breathe [Drexel university e cigarette study]. I think it's a sham that the FDA will approve regular cigarettes which we know will kill you versus something that probably wont.

    They are not the same thing. Smoking is the combustion of a chemically altered form of tobacco containing as many as 4000 ingredients which releases thousands of know carcinogens into your blood stream.

    Vaping is increasing the temperature of a juice with generally 5 or less food grade (excluding the nicotine) ingredients which change state into vapour releasing nicotine into your blood stream and stimulating your taste receptors. If you don't use nicotine infused juice then its only the latter.

    Calling vaping smoking is like saying that you are burning a pan of water or that there is smoke coming from the kettle.

    Kids aren't going to take this up then move onto cigarettes for two reasons.

    1. No matter how you do it vaping does not look cool, you look like a weird geeky idiot and get stared at constantly. Its usually embarrassing unless you can hide your device. I doubt anyone who is a non smoker including kids would even consider vaping off their own backs due to this reason alone. A puff of a friends vape wont be enough to sway you either as you'll probably cough your virginal lungs up and never try again.

    2. If you tried an actual cigarette for the first time after vaping it would be your last. Going from something generally pleasant tasting to the sickening gross taste and feeling of a cigarette would put you off them forever. No way someone would think that a cigarette is better than vaping unless they were already addicted to cigarettes.

    "formaldehyde in their vapour at levels similar to traditional tobacco cigarettes. "

    Please give a link to the experiment. How in the world is formaldehyde created?

    Does heating Nicotine Create formaldehyde?
    Does heating Vegetable Glycerine create formaldehyde?
    Does heating food grade flavorings create formaldehyde?

    If so then they need to pull all these products from consumption because they are heated and cooked on a daily basis.

    We all know heating Nicotine doesn't create formaldehyde.

    Great article with no sourcing.

    I want to see some actual proof of these allegations. your credibility is at stake here.

    e-cigarettes vapor contain almost the same chemical compound as cigarettes. the highly concentrated amount of nicotine has the same effect as tobacco cigarettes. also i hate to break it to you it is also also contains the same substances that cause all types of cancer. and the vapor produced can put people at risk of second hand

    How is it that the same journal cited has a study indicating "E-cigarette vapor contains nicotine, not other toxins"? The vapor that is emitted does not contain toxins. This is completely untrue.

    Thanks for failing your readers with poor research and false claims. When did you guys sell out to man? This is just sad.

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