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Vaping study: E-cigs produce 97% less of cancer-causing butanol

Posted by Matt Rowland on

There has been much debate in the scientific community regarding the comparable toxicity levels of vaping vs. smoking, but a recently published e-cig study attempts to end the controversy once and for all.  It is a well-documented fact that conventional tobacco cigarettes are laced with thousands of noxious, cancer-causing chemicals, many of which are specifically included by Big Tobacco manufacturers to enhance the addictive qualities of their products.

Meanwhile, electronic cigarettes are essentially 100% tobacco-free, and the included e-liquids are made from only four key ingredients – propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and water.

The new research was published by a team of European scientists led by a Dr. Lion Shahab of University College London and funded by the Cancer Research UK organization. The data concludes that the vapor emitted from e-cigs contains up to 97 percent less of the deadly carcinogen butanol compared to the smoke emitted from combustible cigarettes.  But the good news does not end there. 

Scientists measure for 26 different toxins

Shahab and his team began their study by monitoring a group of 181 volunteers compromised of smokers, vapers who were also former-smokers, and current dual users.   The different control groups were also asked about their personal histories and success rates related to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as “the patch” and nicotine gum.

Through the regular collection and evaluation of biomarker samples that include urine and saliva, the team then measured the toxicity levels of some 26 different chemicals pertaining to the e-cig vapor or cigarette smoke, depending on the volunteer.

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What the scientists discovered is that the quantities of all 26 chemicals were substantially lower in the e-cig vapor when compared to the cigarette smoke.  In fact, most toxins measured between 56 to 97 percent less, with cancer-causing butane receiving the largest decrease by far. 

"Our study shows that bodily level exposure to established and important smoking-related carcinogens and toxicants is reduced by between 56 percent to 97 percent in long-term e-cigarette users who have stopped smoking completely, compared with tobacco cigarette smokers.”
-Dr. Lion Shahab of Cancer Research UK

Not only did the vaping group exhibit substantially lower levels of butane and the other 25 chemicals compared to smokers, but the toxicity levels were very similar to those using more conventional NRTs. Th scientists consider this discovery to be crucial, simply because anti-tobacco advocacy groups like the American Lung Association are notorious for claiming that only FDA-approved NRTs are safe for public consumption. 

Dr. Shahab points out that the scientific community already has over 30-years of research documenting that conventional NRTs do not produce negative, long-term health effects for the user.  So, if e-cigs produce the same levels of decreased toxicity as traditional NRTs, then vaping technology must also be just as safe.

However, even Dr. Shahab agrees making this connection requires more scientific research to be 100% certain.  But thanks to new studies like this one, at least the scientific community seems to be on the right track.

The entire e-cig study is published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine and a summary of the results is readily available on the Health Day website.  While the study indicates that the levels of cancer-causing toxins were greatly diminished in the only-vaper group, their associated nicotine levels remained relatively identical. 

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