Studies Show Vaping Can Be Up To 99% Less Carcinogenic
On August 4th, scientists in the United Kingdom published a study analyzing the potency of carcinogens found in the emissions of various nicotine-based aerosol products. Entitled Comparing the cancer potencies of emissions from vapourised nicotine products including e-cigarettes with those of tobacco smoke, the results of this study show that (under certain circumstances) vaping can be up to 99 percent less carcinogenic than smoking tobacco. The study, and its details, can be found on the BMJ Tobacco Control website.
Using published chemical analyses of aerosol emissions to develop a conversion scale, Dr. William E. Stevens and his team of scientists—affiliates of the University of St. Andrew School of Earth & Environmental Sciences—established a unit of measurement applicable to each product featured in the study. By using this scale to gauge the risks associated with daily consumption, they were able to extrapolate from their results to approximate lifetime cancer risks.
According to the study, Dr. Stevens and his team analyzed the potency of cancer-causing carcinogens found in the emissions of vapes, cigarettes, and new Heat-not-Burn (HnB) technology. Then, they used the collected data to form a spectrum of cancer potency ranging from uncontaminated air to tobacco smoke. Cigarettes, obviously, proved to have the highest levels of potency—followed by HnB tech whose emissions are, while less potent than tobacco smoke, still significantly more potent than vape emissions. The potency levels of most vape emissions ranged from par with medical nicotine inhalers to less than 1 percent of the potency of tobacco smoke.
Though most vape emissions held low levels of potency, some samples showed much higher levels. Studies promoted by anti-tobacco groups have shown similar results. However, for the vapor from an e-cigarette to achieve this level of potency, the e-liquid must be heated to such a temperature that would make it impossible to inhale its vapor comfortably.
This groundbreaking study has earned both recognition and praise from noteworthy authorities, such as Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University’s School of Public Health. Dr. Siegel—whose credentials include 32 years of field work in tobacco control and two years at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health—published a blog article praising Dr. Steven’s study:
“This study should put to rest any doubt within the tobacco control movement about whether vaping greatly reduces health risk compared to smoking. Numerous anti-tobacco groups and health departments have repeatedly asserted that vaping is no less hazardous than smoking, but this claim is false, and the present study adds significantly to the already substantial evidence that vaping is orders of magnitude safer than smoking.”
The quote above was pulled directly from Dr. Siegel’s article New Study Provides Strong Empirical Support for New FDA Approach to Tobacco Product Regulation, in which he affirms that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco. The health risks associated with the two, he insists, are distinct enough that the two should not even be in the same category:
“It makes no sense to lump e-cigarettes in the same basket as tobacco cigarettes, given their drastically different health risks.”
Dr. Siegel goes on to chastise anti-tobacco organizations and various health departments for promoting misleading studies that suggest vaping is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes, encouraging them to repeal such statements in view of recent findings.
Though it remains a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, Dr. Stevens and his team point out that the potency levels of a vape’s emissions are not guaranteed to be as low as 1 percent. According to the study, carcinogenic potency is determined by three key factors: The settings of the vape and its heating temperatures; the formulaic composition of the e-liquid; and individual vaping habits.
The results of this study coincide with another study conducted by Cancer Research UK. Lead by head researcher Lion Shabad, the study found that smokers who switch to vapes can reduce their exposure to carcinogens by up to 97 percent. However, this only applies to individuals who had completely switched to vaping. Those who continued to smoke cigarettes in addition to vaping experienced little to no decrease in exposure to carcinogens.
By affirming the beneficial qualities of switching to vapes, these studies reinforce their claim as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. According to Shabad, “this finding is consistent with the assertion that completely switching to e-cigarettes significantly reduces the risk of future cancers compared with continued smoking. E-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking tobacco in the context of developing smoking-related cancer.”