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E-cigs contain cancer-causing toxins, study finds

Fruit flavors are the most dangerous.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Mar 14, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 9:51 pm CDT

The strawberry flavored liquid in your e-cigarettes may increase your chances of getting cancer.

E-cigarettes contain carcinogens, and those with fruity flavors are said to be the most dangerous, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

While the study found e-cigs are less dangerous than combustible cigarettes, significant amounts of volatile chemicals were found in those who use the popular smoking alternative.

“Messaging to teenagers should include warnings about the potential risk from toxic exposure to carcinogenic compounds generated by these products,” the study concluded.

Doctors at the UCSF’s Division of Adolescent Medicine tested urine and saliva samples of 67 teens who used e-cigs and compared the results to 16 adolescents who both inhale e-cigs and smoke cigarettes as well as 20 non-smokers.

Higher levels of dangerous metabolites like benzene, ethylene oxide, acrylamide, and acrolein, were found in e-cigarette-only users when compared to the controls. Additionally, the amount of acrylonitrile, a highly toxic substance, was dependent on the average number of e-cig sessions per day.

“Acrylonitrile is a highly poisonous compound used widely in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.

Interestingly, the amount of acrylonitrile in urine samples was affected by flavoring. Those who vaped fruit flavors had higher levels than those who did not.

“Overall results reveal significantly greater toxicant exposure in adolescent e-cigarette users compared with their nonusing peers,” the study said. 

More teenagers are smoking e-cigs than regular cigarettes, the paper claims. E-cigarette use in the last 30 days among 10th graders was more than twice that of normal cigarettes.

If you want to learn more about the safety of e-cigarettes, check out our up-to-date report.

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*First Published: Mar 14, 2018, 12:53 am CDT