Dr. Maciej Goniewicz: Carcinogen exposure via vaping is ‘substantially reduced’

Dr. Maciej Goniewicz is the lead author of a recently released vaping study which shows that e-cig vapor has far less carcinogens than the smoke from combustible cigarettes.  As an Associate Professor of Oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the original goal of the study was to identify potential health effects related to nicotine delivery into the human body by way of vaping devices.  What he and his team of scientists discovered is that e-cigs are not only less toxic, they are also significantly more effective in helping people to quit smoking as compared to more conventional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs).

Overview of the Goniewicz vaping study

The study entitled Exposure to Nicotine and Selected Toxicants in Cigarette Smokers Who Switched to Electronic Cigarettes: A Longitudinal Within-Subjects Observational Study is readily available for review on the Oxford Academic Nicotine and Tobacco Research website.  The scientific team began by collecting urine samples from a small control group of twenty smokers.  They then measured for the following biomarkers.

  • 17 different carcinogenic biomarkers related to tobacco smoke
  • 7 different biomarkers related to nicotine metabolites
  • 13 major carcinogens associated with cigarette smoke
  • 1 tobacco-specific nitrosamine
  • 8 volatile organic compounds, including:
    • 1,3-Butadiene
    • Acrolein
    • Acrylamide
    • Acrylonitrile
    • Benzene
    • Crotonaldehyde,
    • Ethylene oxide
    • Propylene oxide
  • 4 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including:
    • Fluorene
    • Naphthalene
    • Phenanthrene
    • Pyrene 

After the biomarkers were measured, the smokers were then asked to switch to vaping-only practices for a period of two weeks.  The scientists then collected a second round of urine samples and measured for the same criteria.

Results of the Goniewicz vaping study

While the participants’ levels of nicotine and some of the related polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons remained relatively unchanged, each of the other carcinogens and toxins declined significantly after only one week of vaping.  For example, the tobacco-specific nitrosamine reduced by an average of 57 percent after Week 1 and up to 64 percent by Week 2.  Meanwhile, the hydroxyfluorene levels fell by 46 percent and 34 percent respectively. 

 “After switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes, nicotine exposure remains unchanged, while exposure to selected carcinogens and toxicants is substantially reduced.”
“To our knowledge, this is the first study that demonstrates that substituting tobacco cigarettes with an e-cigarette may reduce user exposure to numerous toxicants and carcinogens otherwise present in tobacco cigarettes. Data on reduced exposure to harmful constituents that are present in tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes can aid in evaluating e-cigarettes as a potential harm reduction device.”

Another positive discovery is that 45 percent of the sample group had successfully remained smoke-free at the end of the vaping study.  55 percent reported continued use of tobacco cigarettes.  These statistics also mimic those of another similar vaping study conducted by the Penn State just this week which indicates vaping is significantly less addictive than smoking. 


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