Are E-Cigarettes Really A Reduced-Risk To Health?

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They are growing in popularity, Electronic Cigarettes, which are generally considered a better choice than the mainstream tobacco options, in terms of the impact on health. But are they really much better for us? A study recently posted in April 2015 evaluated the effect of the liquid vapour from electronic cigarettes on human bronchial cells. Scheffler et al conducted the research in order to give consumers some more information about choosing this currently unregulated product.

E-cigarettes are emerging products, often described as “reduced-risk” nicotine products or alternatives to combustible cigarettes. Many smokers switch to e-cigarettes to quit or significantly reduce smoking. However, no regulations for e-cigarettes are currently into force, so that the quality and safety of e-liquids is not necessarily guaranteed. ~ Scheffler

After 24 hours the researchers analysed cell viability and oxidative stress levels. E-Cigarette vapour and the pure carrier substances were shown to have toxicological effects on the cells. But this was low in comparison to the viability of cells exposed to mainstream cigarette smoke, which was significantly times lower. The oxidative stress levels of cells exposed to mainstream versus electronic cigarette was 4.5-5 times higher. It is recommended that the study is replicated to confirm the findings, but these results do appear to support the claims that E-Cigarettes are a healthier smoking option.

However, it is important to note that just because they are not ‘as bad’ as tobacco cigarettes (which we know to be extremely harmful), they are certainly not risk-free. The extent to which they are seen as ‘reduced-risk’ could be potentially misleading.

Health Impacts

Before Scheffler’s study was published, another similar body of research was made available in December 2014. Kacker et al attempted to answer the question: Do electronic cigarettes impart a lower potential disease burden than conventional tobacco cigarettes?

They completed a review on E-cigarette vapor versus tobacco smoke, in terms of impact on human health. Their conclusions were on par with Scheffler; Based on the comparison of the chemical analysis of EC (E-Cigarettes) and TC (tobacco cigarettes) carcinogenic profiles and association with health-indicating parameters, ECs impart a lower potential disease burden than conventional TCs.

They found that E-Cigarette vapours contained far fewer carcinogenic particles than mainstream cigarette smoke. E-Cigarettes pass on an equivalent level of nicotine to the body, without increasing the white blood cell count. This means that they have the potential to lower the risk of atherosclerosis and systemic inflammation.

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  1. Firstly, thank you for writing a well-balanced and thought out article, I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    “Overall, it could be said that E-Cigarettes are a better choice than traditional tobacco, but it is important that consumers recognise that there may still be a significant risk to health and wellbeing when using these products.” – driving or walking or even living in any environment where you find vehicles, factories, coal stoves/fire places is way more unhealthy and even extremely dangerous to your health than smoking or inhaling vapour from an e-cigarette or through “vaping”.

    My husband started vaping over a year ago. No more “stinkies”. He quit smoking cigarettes the same day he started vaping. Within the first couple of weeks, he stopped wheezing when climbing stairs, coughing in the mornings and his blood pressure came down to normal levels. After 3 months he started lowering the nicotine strength in his vape liquids. A huge plus point for me is that I don’t have to run around with air freshener anymore (which is harmful to the environment, pets and humans). The flavours he vapes smells nice and I don’t mind him vaping in the house as my curtains and linen don’t smell like an old dirty ashtray anymore.

    It is a bit concerning that everytime something “good” or rather better becomes available, especially if we look at alternative medicines and cures and alternatives to smoking cigarettes that companies spend thousands if not millions trying to debunk that it is better and/or safer. The amount of negative propaganda/articles that appear overnight once pharmaceutical companies and big corporations (tobacco companies) start losing revenue amazes me (not really), what is really concerning is that the public so easily accepts “research papers” as fact without doing any research of their own. Walking or driving to work in traffic is a real killer. Inhaling all that petrol and diesel fumes can surely not be good for one’s health? Yet, alternative “green” fuel is made so expensive and the red tape to get to use it is on a “forever roll”. Petrol and diesel fumes do not just affect your lungs, but your eyes and skin as well. City smog has a way to cling to your clothes that make you smell like you are living in a prehistoric hut with no windows and a fire burning 24/7.

    Sometimes one just needs to ask one self who is paying for this negative “research” and why, when a couple of hundred/thousand people can and will testify to the difference it made in their lives (and pockets).

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