Adolescents who smoke e-cigarettes are exposed to significant levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals also found in tobacco cigarettes, even when the e-cigarettes do not contain nicotine, according to a study by UC San Francisco researchers.
"There is nicotine in them, and that drives that to the brain, the part of the brain that can be very addictive", said Nancy Hans, executive director of the Prevention Council of Roanoke County. Research published this week in the journal Pediatrics finds that teens who only smoke tobacco-based cigarettes such as Marlboro and Camel brands have the highest levels of cancer-causing chemicals present in their bodies. Teens, even middle schoolers, have taken up e-cigarettes as well.
"I was a pack-a-day smoker for 20 years", said Justice, owner of WC Vapor.
Prof Rubinstein said kids should never use e-cigarettes, devices created to help people quit smoking giving the nicotine hit without exposing them to tobacco. The list of compounds included acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde. Both forms of cigarette use caused the presence of much higher levels of risky chemicals in the users' bodies, including acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde, the team reported.
This is the first-known study to look at the presence of potentially cancer-causing compounds in adolescents e-cigarette users.
"Acrylonitrile is a highly poisonous compound used widely in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber", the National Center for Biotechnology Information says on its website.
Those who used both types of cigarette had significantly higher levels of risky chemicals, including acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde, the team reported. Despite massive gains in cutting cigarette use among young adults over the past few decades, e-cigarette use was the most common tobacco product among USA middle- and high-schoolers between 2014 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Teenagers need to be warned that the vapor produced by e-cigarettes is not harmless water vapor, but actually contains some of the same toxic chemicals found in smoke from traditional cigarettes", Rubinstein said in a statement.
Last week, a study of almost 70,000 people found that daily e-cigarette use can double the risk for heart attack. Among e-cigarette-users, the levels of acrylonitrile were higher in those who preferred fruit flavors - compared to candy, tobacco or menthol flavors. "Messaging to teenagers should include warnings about the potential risk from toxic exposure to carcinogenic compounds generated by these products".
"Electronic cigarettes generate nicotine in the vapor".