E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Vapers Exposed to Considerably Less Toxicants Than Smokers, New Study Suggests

According to a recently published study that analyzed biomarkers of toxic chemicals in the urine of thousands of participants, vapers are exposed to considerably less carcinogens and metals than smokers and dual-users.

Conducted by a team of researchers led by Maciej Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Center and published in the journal JAMA Network Open, this new study looked at 2013-2014 data from the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, for which a total of 5,105 adults provided urine samples to be analyzed for various biomarkers. Out of the total number of volunteers, 2,411 smoked cigarettes only, 247 used e-cigarettes exclusively, 792 used both tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, and 1,655 had never smoked nor vaped. After analyzing and comparing the biomarker data for all groups, researchers concluded that while e-cigarette users seemed to be exposed to higher level of certain toxicants than never-smokers, they were exposed to considerably less carcinogens and metals than tobacco smokers.

During their research, scientists looked at 50 individual biomarkers, from 5 major classes of tobacco product constituents: nicotine, tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). After comparing the urine samples of the categories of volunteers mentioned above, they reported the following:

– “Exclusive e-cigarette users showed 10% to 98% significantly lower concentrations of biomarkers of exposure, including TSNAs, PAHs, most VOCs, and nicotine, compared with exclusive cigarette smokers; concentrations were comparable for metals and 3 VOCs.”

– “Exclusive cigarette users showed 10% to 36% lower concentrations of several biomarkers than dual users. Frequency of cigarette use among dual users was positively correlated with nicotine and toxicant exposure.”

– “Compared with exclusive e-cigarette users, never users had 19% to 81% significantly lower concentrations of biomarkers of exposure to nicotine, TSNAs, some metals (eg, cadmium and lead), and some VOCs (including acrylonitrile).”

While some publication have chosen to focus on the fact that exclusive e-cigarette users had more biomarkers of toxic chemicals in their urine when compared to non-smokers (including nicotine, which, well, obviously), the important takeaway here is that switching from cigarette smoking to vaping results in a reduced exposure to known harmful compounds.

Mainstream media conveniently fails to mention that supporters of vaping have never claimed it to be completely harmless, only considerably less harmful than smoking, and the results of this study seem to confirm that idea. If you’re not a smoker, than you should definitely not try vaping, but if you’re using tobacco cigarettes and looking to quit by switching to a less harmful nicotine delivery device, than e-cigarettes appear to be a viable alternative.

“For smokers trying to quit it might be beneficial to use e-cigarettes as a transition,” study leader Maciej Goniewicz said.

However, while past research suggested that dual-use (smoking cigarettes and vaping) was better than exclusive tobacco cigarette use because it reduced exposure to tobacco smoke, this study suggests that a significant decrease in exposure to toxicants specific to smoking can only be achieved by switching to e-cigarettes completely.

“Toxicant exposure is greatest among dual users, and frequency of combustible cigarette use is positively correlated with tobacco toxicant concentration,” the study authors concluded. “These findings provide evidence that using combusted tobacco cigarettes alone or in combination with e-cigarettes is associated with higher concentrations of potentially harmful tobacco constituents in comparison with using e-cigarettes alone.”

Once again, it’s important to view the results of this study in relativity between vaping and smoking. E-cigarettes were created as a less harmful alternative to smoking, and must be judged with that in mind. There’s nothing wrong with clarifying that e-cigarettes are not completely safe, but that’s very different from the fearmongering we see every day.

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