High-voltage e-cigarettes may be far more dangerous than previously believed, according to new research led by staff at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
According to the study, e-cigarettes may expose users to increased levels of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde — the same types of toxins found in traditional cigarettes. The study was published online Friday by Nicotine and Tobacco Research, a peer-reviewed journal.
It’s the next in a series of studies out of Roswell Park led by Maciej Goniewicz, an assistant professor of oncology at Roswell’s Department of Health Behavior.
The battery-operated e-cigarette devices use heat to create vapor from liquid solutions made with nicotine, flavors and other chemicals. Goniewicz and his team examined chemicals in vapors generated from e-cigarettes with variable voltage that allow users to increase vapor production and nicotine delivery.
Though vapors from e-cigarettes operated at lower voltage generated trace amount of such toxic chemicals as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen; acetaldehyde, considered a possible carcinogen to humans; and two chemicals known to irritate nasal, lung and/or mucous tissues, acrolein and acetone.
When the voltage was increased, the levels of toxicants also significantly increased.
“These results suggest that some types of electronic cigarettes might expose their users to the same or even higher levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde than tobacco smoke,” Goniewicz said. “Users of high-voltage e-cigarettes need to be warned about this increased risk of harmful effects.”
Andrew Hyland is chairman of the department of health behavior at Roswell Park’s Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences and serves as a senior editor for the journal Tobacco Control.