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E-cigarettes 'Potentially As Harmful As Tobacco Cigarettes' (uconn.edu) 362

An anonymous reader shares a report: A study by chemists at the University of Connecticut offers new evidence that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are potentially as harmful as tobacco cigarettes. Using a new low-cost, 3-D printed testing device, UConn researchers found that e-cigarettes loaded with a nicotine-based liquid are potentially as harmful as unfiltered cigarettes when it comes to causing DNA damage. The researchers also found that vapor from non-nicotine e-cigarettes caused as much DNA damage as filtered cigarettes, possibly due to the many chemical additives present in e-cigarette vapors. Cellular mutations caused by DNA damage can lead to cancer.
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E-cigarettes 'Potentially As Harmful As Tobacco Cigarettes'

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    How many days until we found out they have ties to someone like Philip Morris?

    • by thaylin ( 555395 )

      PM has been switching to ecigs for a while now.

      • I doubt there's some kind of conspiracy anyways because this shit is super conflicting. For example it suggests that they're worse than unfiltered cigarettes, and yet recent research has shown that the filter poses an increased cancer risk:

        http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspo... [blogspot.com]

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @02:18PM (#54604027) Homepage Journal

      Most legitimate peer-reviewed journals have a conflict of interest disclosure requirement, so you just have to look at the paper to see.

      The paper isn't available to no-subcribers, but here's the guideline listed by the journal in question:

      A statement describing any financial conflicts of interest or lack thereof is published with each manuscript. During the submission process, the corresponding author must provide this statement on behalf of all authors of the manuscript. The statement should describe all potential sources of bias, including affiliations, funding sources, and financial or management relationships, that may constitute conflicts of interest (please see the ACS Ethical Guidelines). The statement will be published in the final article. If no conflict of interest is declared, the following statement will be published in the article: “The authors declare no competing financial interest.”

      The bigger question is, what is the nature of the paper, and the journal it appears in?

      The gold standard for evidence is a literature review paper published in a relevant journal that has a high impact factor for its field. Even high quality research reported in a relevant legitimate journal isn't something anyone should make any judgments based on. Science deals with evidence, and evidence in any non-trivial question tends to pile up on both sides at the outset.

      ACS Sensors is a relatively new journal published by the American Chemical Society for research in chemical sensor technology. It's not even a health-related journal. This doesn't mean the research is bad, or the conclusions are bad. It just means that they're mainly relevant as to whether this technology could be used to research the health impact of e-cigarettes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 12, 2017 @04:26PM (#54605127)
        I have subscriber access to the paper through a university, and this is the relevant section:

        Author Contributions
        The manuscript was written through contributions of all authors. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.
        The authors declare no competing financial interest.

        The authors thank the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), NIH, Grant No. ES03154 for financial support. We thank Islam M. Mosa for SEM images.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:27PM (#54603437)

    E-Cigarettes don't have any tar, which is truly nasty stuff, and that makes them better than tobacco. But I am willing to believe that they are bad for you. Nicotine is fairly nasty (and highly addictive) on its own.

    • It is noteworthy that it appears the exposure here was 5 minutes. This wouldn't exactly mimic the effects of tar residue or polonium [cancerresearchuk.org] sitting around on your lung cells for years, building up damage. Note that I have not actually read the article, just skimmed the abstract, I'm at work ATM. I have no idea if these sensors would be able to accurately test that.
    • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:57PM (#54603775)

      The study was only looking at cancer risks so drawing conclusions that vaping is just as bad as smoking from this article is ill informed. As you allude to there are other respiratory illnesses, like COPD, where the tar from smoking is a major factor. If vaping has equivalent odds of causing cancer as smoking but reduces risk of other illnesses it seems rather obvious that we should encourage people to move from smoking to vaping in order to reduce the amount of respiratory illness. Getting them off smoking/vaping entirely would be the best but addictions are what they are.

    • Cigarettes don't have tar made from petroleum like on a the road they have a TAR (total aerosol residue). Everyone likes to believe that e-cigarettes leave no residue behind but that's just silly and anyone that might propagate that myth is highly suspect.

    • I've been following this with some interest, as my dad's been using e-cigs to stop smoking, slowly lowering his amount of nicotine. Prima facie it seems sensible to expect it to be healthier not to inhale smoke from random burning stuff compared to a vapor. The only people I know who use e-cigs are people trying to quit regular cigarettes so I'm not sure what the overall demographics are. The only 'young people' I know who smoke are into a hipster style cigar trend, not daily smokers.
    • In theory :
      - regular cigarettes (and other classical tobacco product) work by *burning* dried leaves.
      - e-cig work by electronically delivering the fluid (mostly ultra-sound vaporisation).
      Thus cigarettes have much more potential to release combustion toxic products.
      In short : e-cig are not burning, in theory they are better.

      In practice :
      - there's only that much additives that you can add to tobacco before you start having more tobacco than actual dried plants.
      - e-cig fluid is more or less a free mix of whate

    • The choice of the nicotine concentration of e-cigs is entirely up to the vaper, unlike with smoking.

  • by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:29PM (#54603471) Homepage

    I have to wonder if the simpler non-nicotine versions are anywhere near as harmful. Food-grade vegetable glycerine and peppermint oil just don't scream, "I am chemical death" to me, but what do I know.

    • It's kind of tricky you are inhaling it so it's not being processed by your liver so anything you eat that might not normally be toxic because your liver takes care of it could be a problem. Kind of like a couple shots of whiskey isn't a problem but a couple shots of whiskey in an enema can kill you. It's also a vaporized liquid that goes into your lungs which eventually will turn back into liquid.

    • Food-grade vegetable glycerine and peppermint oil just don't scream, "I am chemical death" to me, but what do I know.

      If you source your fluid from a local organic pop-and-mom shop that makes a product that is basically just pure glycerin, and peppermint oil and nothing else :
      sure, you're going to get something which has the potential to be a lot less toxic than burning dried leaves treated with tons of additives.

      But as soon as you speak about cheap industrial products, you know that the manufacturer will try to get away with any thing they can within tolerated / detectable concentrations.
      (The same as with industrial food

  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:30PM (#54603487) Homepage
    But it's the best thing you'll ever do for your health, and to not be beholden to a drug is a remarkably freeing feeling.
    • I quit smoking 22 years ago and I agree!!
    • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:42PM (#54603627) Homepage

      I work with a woman who smoked for 20 years. She told me quitting cold turkey was fine and people are babies about it.

      • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:56PM (#54603767) Homepage

        For some it is easy, for others it's harder than quitting an addiction like alcohol or opioids. (Source: I've worked in homeless shelters and talked to addicts about it).

        For me, it was easy the first time to go cold turkey. I was 17 and I'd been smoking for three years. When I started smoking again 18 years later and then quit three years after that, it was really difficult. The nicotine had really taken hold for some reason the second time. I finally turned to Nicorette gum, and in that moment when I popped that little cube in my mouth and the craving just dissipated, I realized I'd been a drug addict.

        Been smoke free for nearly 20 years, and it's definitely the best decision from a health standpoint I've ever made.

    • ...and to not be beholden to a drug is a remarkably freeing feeling.

      That's how I felt when I stopped using Windows.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:34PM (#54603521) Journal
    Yeah, a "chain-smoking" sort of addiction to anything is going to be bad for you, but with vapor you don't have all that tar in your lungs. Be careful of the ingredients in your e-juice so you don't get popcorn lung [snopes.com], and you're way better off compared to conventional cigarettes.

    It's better to figure out how to get a natural high, and it's better to wake up in the morning with energy naturally instead of needing coffee, but if you're still smoking tobacco then stop today and switch to e-cigs. Your future self will thank you a million times.
  • Stupid people are going to do stupid shit like this and they're going to keep looking for something equally stupid to replace it when you ban it or change it too much. Just let them do it. Let companies pick their pockets along the way and watch the dumb asses get their cancer and complain about how they didn't know the dangers or how the companies that make them shouldn't have been allowed to sell them that shit to begin with. We all know that no matter how many times you tell them about it they don't list
  • There is dozens of e-cigarette manufacturers and hundreds of products. As usual with e-cigarette research, they are simply lumped in together without any information on the number of devices or list of products tested. In of itself nicotine is no more dangerous then the worlds most used psychoactive drug, caffeine. I do agree on one point thou, there is a very real need for a detailed ingredient list on e-cigarette refills and a warning that the additives are untested and maybe harmefull.
  • It's interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 12, 2017 @01:53PM (#54603747)

    They never seem to promote the stories that are in direct contradiction to this study. The Royal College of Physicians in the U.K. made a determination the e-cigarettes were at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes. No one cared. But every time this type of study, typically with terrible methodology no one pays attention to, is released, the media goes nuts. Saying something is safe isn't click bait worthy.

  • I wonder how Philip Morris feels about e-cigarettes. I would imagine tobacco cigarettes are a lot cheaper for them to make and easier to market because there's low "startup costs." I doubt they'd be funding studies like this because the whole point is to keep as many people addicted to nicotine as possible. It must be hard going from a world of the 50s where the majority of adult men smoked and 30some% of women did too, to a world where smokers are standing in a sad little corner 25 feet from building entra

  • Where does that fit? The "juice" is pretty much the same. I'd love to learn about this.

  • I highly doubt that E-cigarettes by themselves cause DNA damage/cell manipulation. It's the ingredients of whatever "E-liquid" that is inhaled that is the focus here.

    So that leads me to believe that people should be focusing on the quality or ingredients of the E-liquid they are inhaling. Why blanket an entire medium as harmful when it's the consumable that is causing the harm?

  • by Bartles ( 1198017 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @02:54PM (#54604373)

    It's always the chemicals. Chemicals are bad. Chemicals cause cancer. Just call the chemicals by their common name and then they become natural. Are natural chemicals bad?

  • by alvieboy ( 61292 ) on Monday June 12, 2017 @03:33PM (#54604671) Homepage

    Vaper here. For about 3 months now.

    I make my own vaping fluid. It's composed of "pure" VG (VEGETABLE GLYCERIN) and "PG" (PROPYLENE GLYCOL), with added Nicotine and some flavours. PG, VG and nicotine come from reliable, trusted sources, and have no additives whatsoever. Aroma is more complex, but you can live without it if you do not trust its components, although most are at least accepted as food addictives, so should be safe.

    To be honest, the way they put it really looks like they are funded by the Big Guys.

    All I can say is for the last two months or so I feel much more healthy, no more morning coughs, I already reduced my nicotine intake for more than 50%. I tend to vape a lot, though, but as long as my sources do not lie about the base components (VG and PG) I should be way safer.

    There are no such things as "addictives", unless they mean aroma. And again, those, if coming from a reliable, trusted source, should be safe.


"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas