E-Cigarettes Health Risks: Study Finds Latest Smoking Craze Is Just As Harmful As Actual Cigs

By Philip Ross on August 28, 2013 12:10 PM EDT

e-cigarette
E-cigarettes’ health risks are not well understood. But a new study found that the popular smoking trend isn’t the harmless alternative to smoking that the industry claims it is. (Photo: Reuters)

The health risks of e-cigarettes have been relatively uncharted since the faux-cigs became the latest smoking craze a few years ago. But the rising popularity of e-cigarettes, touted by the industry as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, begs the question: Are battery operated cigs really as innocuous as their promoters claim they are?

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The answer seems to be no. A new study from France says e-cigarettes actually pose health risks similar to those of actual cigarettes. According to researchers from France's National Consumer's Institute, e-cigarettes contain about the same amount of formaldehyde, a carcinogenic compound, as regular cigarettes, as well as a number of "potentially carcinogenic" chemicals like acetaldehyde.

"Electronic cigarettes are far from the harmless gadgets they are presented as," wrote Thomas Laurenceau, editor of the magazine 60 Million Consumers, which reports the findings of France's consumer's institute.

France's National Consumer's Institute tested 10 brands of e-cigarettes. They discovered that the vapors produced by the products contained potentially dangerous compounds, including traces of acrolein, a chemical used in the production of acrylic acid and biocide.

The report also criticized some e-cig producers' failure to warn users of the chemicals present in their products, including the amount of nicotine they contain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has been hesitant to say that e-cigarettes are just as harmful to people's health as real cigarettes. But it does warn against the potential health risks posed by the faux-cig.

"The agency is concerned that ... the products may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans," the FDA stated back in 2009. "Because clinical studies about the safety and efficacy of these products for their intended use have not been submitted to FDA, consumers currently have no way of known whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use."

The FDA has suggested regulating e-cigarettes just like nicotine patches or nicotine replacement gum. The American Lung Association is also skeptical of the proposed "safety" of e-cigarettes.

"If e-cigarettes sound too good to be true, that's because they probably are," The American Lung Association noted. "With a dearth of rigorous studies on their safety and effectiveness, experts are increasingly concerned that e-cigarettes may do little to help you stop smoking -- and may actually do more harm than good."

E-cigarettes work by vaporizing a nicotine-laced liquid solution using heat. They are powered by a battery and do not actually contain tobacco.

If the e-cigarette health risks are true, as reported by France's National Consumer's Institute, then the popular alternative to cigarette smoking may be just as dangerous as real cigarettes, which cause lung cancer among other things.

More people die of lung cancer than any other type of cancer in the U.S., and cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer.

Read more from iScience Times:

Menthol Cigarettes Health Risk: FDA Considering New Regulations On Minty Smokes

Cage To Quit Smoking? Ibrahim Yücel Wears Metal Mask Around Head To End Cigarette Habit [VIDEO]

Strict Tobacco Rules: Law Requiring Graphic Labels In Cigarette Packages Upheld As Smoking Age Limit Set To Be Raised In New York City

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