Switching to E-Cigarettes? Read This Study First
Researchers find cause for concern in preliminary study
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2014 6:46 AM CDT
This Nov. 26, 2013 photo shows Steffani Leifeld exhaling a vapor at the Smokeless Smoking electronic cigarette store in Woodbury, Minn.   (AP Photo/St. Paul Pioneer Press, Chris Polydoroff)

(Newser) – As the FDA considers how to regulate e-cigarettes, a recent study finds very tentative reason for concern: When it comes to promoting cancer development in certain types of lung cells, it may not matter whether you're smoking the real thing or the nicotine-laced vapor in an electronic cigarette. How the test-tube study worked: Researchers grew human lung cells, which had been altered to have mutations related to cancer risk, in two types of liquids. One had been exposed to e-cigarette vapor, the other to tobacco smoke. Both sets of cells changed—in ways associated with cancer, the New York Times reports.

There are a number of caveats, from the researchers themselves: no actual smokers were involved, and no connection between e-cigarettes and cancer was proven. And the study hasn't yet been published; its results were aired at a January meeting of lung cancer researchers, and received little attention at the time. But lead researcher Dr. Steven Dubinett stressed what it does show: how in the dark we are about the long-term health consequences of using e-cigarettes and their ingredients. As far as ingredients go, e-cigarettes generally contain three: nicotine, flavoring, and propylene glycol. Scientific American notes that propylene glycol, the synthetic liquid used to help products stay moist, is "generally recognized as safe." But it's typically eaten (in everything from soda to salad dressing), not inhaled—so it's not clear whether inhaling it is truly safe. (As for liquid nicotine, just a teaspoon could kill.)

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Switching to E-Cigarettes? Read This Study First is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 66 comments
Maria Verven
Apr 17, 2014 10:00 AM CDT
This report lost me as soon as it said that propylene glycol is typically eaten and not inhaled. Apparently, this reporter is not aware of the fact that PG is generally regarded as safe and has been used in nebulizers and asthma inhalers since the 1950's. And let's not scare people about nicotine ("just a teaspoon could kill!"). We're not drinking nicotine, we're inhaling it, and it's not a carcinogen. That's the beauty of e-cigarettes: they deliver nicotine without all the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes. Stories like this that scare people away from e-cigarettes just drive people right back to what we're trying to eliminate: smoking, which is killing about 480,000 people a year. Maria Verven Vaping Vamps
Matt McConnell
Apr 17, 2014 3:29 AM CDT
You have to be very careful with these studies. Many news outlets are simply reporting someone else's conclusions. Most often, when you look deeper into the story, you see the data and understand that the conclusions that are being reported are in no way reliable. Bigfoot sightings have far more credence journalistically speaking. Nicotine may be bad, so where are the articles banning the patch, the gum etc. Well, there are powerful interests involved in those businesses so somehow (sarcasm) they escape the concern and scrutiny, and smearing, being heaped on ecigs. Look, for just one example of how media reporting of study conclusions is more a messenger service than a journalistic evaluation, read this article. You can see the media conclusion, the researcher suggestion (and admission) and ... you can see the real data for yourself! Trust me when I tell you that you will come to a different conclusion than what the headline reports once you see for yourself. http://www.electroniccigaretteconsumerreviews.com/study-questions-if-e-cigarettes-can-help-people-quit-smoking/
Apr 16, 2014 9:37 PM CDT
Ok, so nicotine is nicotine and will have the same effect no matter what. BUT e-cigs eliminate exposure to all those OTHER chemicals (including tar) and the elements that tobacco manufacturers could increase to heighten addiction... and sales.