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Dr. Siegel praises new UK study claiming e-cigs are only 1% carcinogenic

When Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health takes time out of his busy schedule to heap high praise on a scientific vaping study, the reasons must be truly noteworthy.  Earlier this week, Vapes.com reported on newly published research by the UK University of St Andrews which claims that vaping – under the proper conditions – is only 1% as carcinogenic as smoking.

The study was based on previously published research statistics involving the chemical emissions of nicotine-infused aerosols.  The team led by Dr. William E Stephens compared the carcinogen levels of e-cigarette vapor, tobacco smoke, and Heat-not-Burn (HnB) technology.  The latter proved to be significantly less toxic than cigarette smoke, but vaping took the big prize rolling it at 99% less carcinogenic overall.  


The UK e-cig study entitled Comparing the cancer potencies of emissions from vapourised nicotine products including e-cigarettes with those of tobacco smoke is readily available for review via the BMJ Tobacco Control website.   The scientists make very clear that the 1% toxicity level is not an automatic assumption for all forms of vaping and electronic cigarettes. 

The results are dependent on three factors:

  1. The e-liquid mixture being vaped
  2. The vaping habits of the user
  3. And perhaps most importantly, the heating temperatures being applied to the coil.

Dr. Siegel and his review of the UK e-cig study

In his weekly blog, Dr. Siegel seems to appreciate this gem of information that is so often lacking in other less-reputable forms of vaping studies.  Sure, it’s easy to claim that vaping is just as toxic as combustible cigarettes – when the researchers turn up the heat so high that the resulting vapor would provide a throat hit of deathlike proportions. 

“While this study does find that there are conditions under which e-cigarettes can be made to produce rather high levels of certain hazardous chemicals -- most notably aldehydes -- these conditions involve jacking up the voltage to excessive levels that typically produce dry puff conditions, something that vapers would almost certainly detect immediately and not tolerate. Nevertheless, the results do suggest that FDA safety standards related to the maximum allowable voltage or coil temperature may be warranted.”

Dr. Michael Siegel also goes on to express his opinion regarding how truly groundbreaking this UK e-cig study has the potential to be.  He also takes specific aim at anti-tobacco groups who often publicly support those other less-reputable forms of vaping studies using excessive heat.

“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 Boston Doc also goes on to praise the new FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for his public emphasis on the regulation of nicotine and tobacco products “based on the wide differential in their health risk.”  According to Siegel, lumping e-cigarettes and vaping technology into the very same category as combustible tobacco “makes no sense,” and he praises Gottlieb for taking a more “sensible and evidence-based approach.”


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