E-cigarettes expose teens to cancer-causing chemicals

Spencer Platt  Getty Images FILE

A new study from researchers at the University of California San Francisco showed that teens who used e-cigarettes are inhaling potentially cancer-causing compounds.

Experiments on teenagers display that those who inhale tobacco-based cigarettes and have an escalated level of these chemicals in their systems, but those who vape e cigarettes have an excessive levels of cancer inducing chemicals than nonsmokers do. In the case of teenagers who used both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the concentration of toxic chemicals in the body was three times higher than in the case of adolescents who only vaped.

E-cigarettes, or vape pens, consolidate seasoned liquid and nicotine to convey a less unforgiving type of smoking. "In fact, it contains some of the same toxic chemicals contained in the smoke of traditional cigarettes", said Rubinstein.

In their turn, the teenagers who consume e-cigs, exclusively, presented by 300% higher amounts of toxins in their urine samples in comparison to the teenagers who don't smoke or vape.

"Although e-cigarette vapor may be less hazardous than tobacco smoke, our findings can be used to challenge the idea that e-cigarette vapor is safe, because numerous volatile organic compounds we identified are carcinogenic", the study read. The teens were divided into three groups: e-cigarette-only users, cigarette and e-cigarette users, and non-users. Dr. Mark Rubinstein, of UCSF's Division of Adolescent Medicine, and colleagues tested 67 teenagers who vape and found that among the e-cigarette only contenders the usage of fruit flavored items generated outstandingly excessive levels of the metabolites of acrylonitrile.

"Acrylonitrile is a highly poisonous compound used widely in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber", the National Center for Biotechnology Information says on its website, while acrolein is considered to be "toxic to humans following inhalation, oral or dermal exposure", according to the EPA.

Other teams have found other potentially cancer-causing chemicals in e-cigarette vapor, including diacetyl, the chemical blamed for causing "Popcorn lung" in workers at microwave popcorn packaging plants.

E-cigarettes are more an more used by teenagers because of the massive marketing campaigns that promote them as safe alternatives to classic smoking.

The latest report on teen smoking shows 20 percent of high school students have used at least one tobacco product recently - mostly e-cigarettes.

The compounds examined in the study include acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde, all of which have been associated with increased cancer-risk in previous studies. "While they may be beneficial to adults as a form of harm reduction, kids should not be using them at all".

The study cautioned that e-cigarettes are often promoted as a safer, healthier alternative to traditional tobacco smoking.

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