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7 days of vaping reduces carcinogenic exposure by 57%, say scientists

Anti-tobacco groups often claim that vaping is just as carcinogenic as smoking, but recent research from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York disputes this claim.  In fact, according to the data, scientists now estimate that smokers can reduce their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and toxins by as much as 57 percent within the first 7-days of switching to vaping.

The original objective of the vaping study led by Dr. Maciej Goniewicz was to identify and evaluate the possible health benefits and disadvantages that nicotine may have on the human body.   The research team already knew that the e-liquids used in vaping are often laced with nicotine concentrates.  But they also knew that combustible cigarettes, which also contain nicotine, are also filled with dangerous levels of tar and other chemicals specifically chosen by Big Tobacco to enhance their addictive qualities.   

The Goniewicz team set out to determine if the vapor from nicotine-only e-liquids are as carcinogenic as the tobacco smoke from cigarettes.  What they discovered is nothing short of groundbreaking.

Overview of the Goniewicz vaping study

The Roswell Park vaping study is entitled Exposure to Nicotine and Selected Toxicants in Cigarette Smokers Who Switched to Electronic Cigarettes: A Longitudinal Within-Subjects Observational Study.  The published findings are readily available on the Oxford Academic Nicotine and Tobacco Research website.


The scientists began by soliciting the help of some twenty smokers who volunteered to make the switch to vaping for a period of at least two weeks.   Along the way, the researchers would be allowed to collect and analyze their urinary output for several biomarkers.  The primary goal was to identify any significant changes.  Biomarkers included the following.

  • (17) carcinogens associated with combustible tobacco cigarettes
  • (13) carcinogens associated with combustible tobacco smoke
  • (7) metabolites associated with nicotine
  • (1) nitrosamine associated with combustible tobacco cigarettes
  • (8) Volatile Organic Compounds
      • Benzene
      • Crotonaldehyde
      • Propylene oxide
      • Ethylene oxide
      • Acrylamide
      • Acrylonitrile
      • Acrolein
      • 1,3-Butadiene
  • (4) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
      • Fluorene
      • Naphthalene
      • Phenanthrene
      • Pyrene

The scientists measured the individual biomarkers of each participant at the beginning of the study before the switch to vaping began.  The samples were measured again after one-week intervals.  What the Goniewicz team discovered is that carcinogenic levels declined sharply by an average of 57 percent after only 7-days.  They plummeted to an astonishing 64 percent after the two-week trial period.

“In total, 45% of participants reported complete abstinence from cigarette smoking at 2 weeks, while 55% reported continued smoking. Levels of total nicotine and some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites did not change after switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes. All other biomarkers significantly decreased after 1 week of using e-cigarettes (p < .05). After 1 week, the greatest percentage reductions in biomarkers levels were observed for metabolites of 1,3-butadiene, benzene, and acrylonitrile. Total NNAL, a metabolite of NNK, declined by 57% and 64% after 1 and 2 weeks, respectively, while 3-hydroxyfluorene levels declined by 46% at week 1, and 34% at week 2.”

The researchers also take special care to note that only 45 percent of the smoking participants were successful in making the transition to vaping without relapse.  In many similar studies, this figure might be the predominate headline.  After all, a 45 percent success rate for a stop smoking aid is rather impressive.

To further support these findings, a vaping study out of Italy earlier this year shows switching to vaping can be up to 61 percent effective in helping smokers quit.  The supporting Italian study entitled Cohort study of electronic cigarette use: effectiveness and safety at 24 months  is published on the Tobacco Control BMJ website.


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