Scientists begin investigating possible health impacts of e-cigarettes

researchers modified human lung cells to have specific genetic mutations that are associated with an increased risk for cancer. They then grew the cells in a liquid medium exposed for four hours to the vapor generated by an e-cigarette. Similarly treated cells were grown in a medium exposed to tobacco smoke.

The scientists reported that the cells exposed to e-cigarette vapor, like those exposed to tobacco smoke, exhibited changes associated with cancer.

What about the control group? What “changes”, and at what rate? Based on the wording, it is entirely possible that the ecig cells changed at a much lower rate than the cigarette cells, or even at the same rate as control cells. Lets not forget, these are cells that were modified to be cancer-prone, so some percentage is going to get cancer no matter what. Without actual figures, this article is meaningless.

Either the experiment was very poorly designed, or the reporting is just shoddy.

Re: second-hand risks:

(tl;dr nothing to worry about)

I’d like to see some studies of just the propylene glycol; the fact that it’s considered “safe” in asthma inhalers doesn’t cut it for me, since an asthma inhaler is probably toked on once or twice a day, as opposed to 100-200 times a day by heavy vapers.

As for the question of second-hand vapor, I think it’s worth looking at that as well, but whether or not there are health effects, I think we should all just consider it rude to vape in public places; I don’t know what others are putting in their juice, whether that’s nicotine or something more sinister, but I don’t want to be exposed to it even in trace amounts.

I say this as someone who has vaped and may vape again, but only in the privacy of my home and not around others.

It seems to me that the tobacco companies have the most to gain by regulating e-cigs. If they can buy into the market, behave badly, and spur draconian regulation they will make a ton of money by retaining smokers they would otherwise lose. The cost of vapeing is less than half the cost of smoking.

And yes most of the discussion around ecigs that isn’t ignorant moralizing is about money.

Which is, IMHO, bull. We have universal health care, we should be encouraging anything that helps people to reduce the harm to themselves, or to help them quit. And in my admittedly anecdotal experience, it does. It might not be legal, but you can still semi-easily get the nicotine, and although I have never smoked, I have many relatives who do…several of whom have dropped from roughly pack-a-day habits to virtually nothing (no actual cigarettes, and a drastically reduced intake on the e-cigs) thanks to this.

It seems to be healthier, cheaper, and less damaging to the environment than smoking. That’s a triple win.

Phillip Morris are advertising half a dozen new hires for R&D of e-cigarettes on right now

OK… well… the only thing ecig vapor has in common with tobacco smoke is nicotine.

Well there’s Arsenic and Benzyne for starters. Plus at least 67 other chemicals known to cause cancer. Plus a bunch more that are suspected to cause cancer (like Formaldehyde). This isn’t exactly new information we’re talking about here.


Exactly. None of those things are in e-cig vapor.

I’d like to see some studies of just the propylene glycol

Here’s a whole bunch.

Some are pretty old (this one from 1947 shows no ill effects on animals living in a heavy vapor environment for more than a year), but there are several recent studies as well.


Wrong. E-cig vapor is known to contain Benzyne, Formaldehyde and many of the other carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.

Wrong. Those studies found those chemicals at unmeasurable levels. That means sub-part-per-billion levels. The air you’re breathing right now contains those chemicals at similar levels.

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Which is why I said:

But I think it’s worth digging more into this scientifically, and figuring out what effect the second-hand e-vapor has,

It’s not smoke, man, it’s vapor! Doffs Fedora, hones ‘inner game’

On a more serious note, do we have a clear idea of how unhealthy straight nicotine(well, diluted in water or saline or something similarly bland, the LD50 is pretty low to be taking it straight) is, aside from being pretty enthusiastically habit forming?

It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if some alarming percentage of e-cig formulations end up being pretty questionably salubrious, having been mixed right down to price by god-knows-who under basically no standards concerning safety, manufacturing repeatability, accurate labelling, or any other such nanny-state twaddle; but the real question is whether that’s just not a solvable problem, or whether a little basic quality control and pre-market testing would mostly solve the problem.


Stanton Glantz is a professional anti e-cig activist. His entire website simply throws everything against the wall to see what sticks. The papers are behind a paywall and I know that several of those substances (the metals) were detected using old cartomizers in a mostly-debunked study.


Nicotine is a controlled substance in Canada.
(Check out the history of caffeine in Canada, until recently our Mountain Dew was caffeine free!) Have as much codeine and pseudo-ephedrine you want, but no nicotine!

I’m not arguing against them? Simply explaining that, legally, e-cigs sold in Canada don’t have nicotine.

Oh, don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t railing against you, just the law. :slight_smile:

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if those substances are actually present in worrying concentrations (and the evidence is questionable), it is due to contamination or low-quality equipment, and not an intrinsic problem. these problems could be easily fixed by very mild regulation.

i think that some people are mostly annoyed that e-cig users are “cheating” their anti-tobacco crusade, without giving serious consideration to the possibility that the cheating is, in fact, another kind of legitimate victory in this case.