E-cigarettes continue to remain under the spotlight, whether because of their healthier composition or because of their toxicity. What’s safe to say, however, is that more and more teens have been vaping in recent years, an aspect that has prompted researchers to determine if e-cigarettes are healthier than smoking tobacco. According to a new study, adolescents who use e-cigarettes are exposed to the same amount of cancerous chemicals as cigarette smokers.
Researchers revealed that teens who used e-cigarettes were three times as likely to be exposed to these toxic chemicals compared to those who didn’t vape. A number of these chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are known carcinogens.
Lead author of the study, Mark L. Rubinstein, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California in San Francisco, said that teenagers need to be warned about the toxic vapors they inhale when smoking these devices. More so, these vapors contain some of the same toxic chemicals found in smoke from regular cigarettes.
“Teenagers should be inhaling air, not products with toxins in them.” Said Dr. Rubinstein.
To reach this conclusion, researchers analyzed saliva and urine samples taken from a group of teens with an average age of 16. Out of all the participants, 67 used e-cigarettes exclusively, while 17 used both traditional cigarettes and vaping devices. A control group of 20 non-smoking teens was set up to regulate the results.
Teenagers who smoked tobacco cigarettes and used e-cigarettes had urine samples with high levels of benzene, ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile, acrolein, and acrylamide, all of them associated with a higher cancer risk.
Several of these chemicals turned up in teens who used non-nicotine products such as fruit flavored e-cigarettes. According to the study, the “flavor” of the e-cigarette cartridge is essential when determining who is at risk of developing cancer. Higher levels of acrylonitrile were found in teens who preferred fruit flavors to their vaping device, as opposed to those who preferred candy, tobacco or menthol flavors.
The study was published in the journal, Pediatrics.
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