Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Are Electronic Cigarettes 10 Times More Carcinogenic Than Traditional Cigarettes?

All over the media, for the past couple of days has been word about how electronic cigarettes contain 10x the carcinogens of regular cigarettes. This was based on a study conducted in Japan.

I found this very surprising as many studies have been done on electronic cigarettes before and none of them have found carcinogens.

 Reality vs Study

In reality your modern electronic cigarette has 3 components.

An image of a modern Electronic Cigarette

  1. Battery
  2. Atomizer with Tank (This stores the liquid in a tank and heats up the liquid to produce vapor)
  3. Nicotine Liquid
 An electronic cigarette like this typically costs around $40.

The Japanese study made use of  the model #510 electronic cigarette which is extremely outdated, you will have trouble finding it on the market today, it has 4 components.

An image of an old model 510 Electronic Cigarette

  1. Battery
  2. Cartridge (This is a plastic sponge which is held against the atomizer)
  3. Atomizer (Heats up the plastic sponge. If there is no liquid inside, it burns the sponge)
  4. Nicotine Liquid
 An electronic cigarette like this typically costs about $12.

My first electronic cigarette was a black 510 like the one above, I bought it 6 years ago and even back then it was the cheapest model. I did not like the idea of the sponge (like the majority of users back then) and resorted to a technique called direct drip because it was kind of obvious that burnt plastic was probably not healthy for you.

The Japanese study claimed to have found 10x more of a single carcinogen (formaldehyde), not of total carcinogens, this makes the headline misleading.

Of course burning plastic couldn't be a carcinogen could it?? (Rocket Science!)

The study failed to mention what brand of  liquids were used, not that it would matter considering aforementioned burning plastic. Many liquids on the market have no quality assurance like Dekang or unbranded liquids and don't even mention the ingredients.

Is it the liquid?

But the vast majority of liquids are tested and typically are composed of 3 of the following ingredients, sometimes only 2 (such as unflavored liquid)

  1. Propylene Glycol
  2. Vegetable Glycerin
  3. Nicotine
  4. Flavoring
  5. Water
None of the above mentioned ingredients are carcinogenic, even when heated.
Yes, for those of you wondering nicotine is not a carcinogen.
It just happens to be very addictive.

Where is the study?

If the purpose of a study is to learn something or add knowledge for the betterment of society these Japanese researchers didn't do anyone a favor.

Here are some more problems with the Japanese study.

  1. The study was never published in a medical journal and is not open to public scrutiny
  2. The information was delivered directly to the Japanese Health Ministry without following protocols
  3. The information passed directly to media in a dishonest way, even if electronic cigarettes all had 10x more formaldehyde, the total percentage of carcinogens would still be 90% lower than traditional cigarettes as smoked tobacco has over 43 known carcinogens of which 42 of them present in higher concentrations that electronic cigarettes. 
  4. Even if all electronic cigarettes had 10x the levels of formaldehyde, it still lacks the remaining 41 carcinogens.
  5. The levels of formaldehyde was only found to exist in one tested electronic cigarette out of an unknown number tested  

 The Bottom Line

While electronic cigarettes aren't perfect, they are certainly according to every other scientific paper published on the topic magnitudes safer than conventional smoking. Do not let one bogus study out of hundreds of studies stating otherwise scare you away from a much safer alternative.

A note to smokers

If you  are currently smoking I highly recommend you make the change over to the electronic cigarette, the brand I recommend and use myself is Janty, I recommend this starter kit, it also comes with free global shipping. This set doesn't use an atomizer but rather a puromizer, which does not use a plastic sponge, heck I'm using one of these right now!

You can buy it here on Ebay

With regards to nicotine liquid, you should always buy local liquid and if you're new to vaping, you will want liquid in the 24mg/ml range (2.4% Nicotine) and this is very important because you don't want to start using your Electronic Cigarette only to find out that you're going through withdrawal because you aren't using a strong enough nicotine liquid.

If you're like me you will likely end up tapering down to 18mg/ml (1.8%) once you've kicked the cigarette habit altogether. When buying liquid it is important to know what's inside, use the list above as a guide for what should be in your liquid, if there's anything else; don't even consider it.

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