Smoking flavored e-cigarettes can irritate the airways and the eyes, especially when it comes to those cherry-flavored, according to a new study featured online in the journal Thorax.
The trendy e-cigarettes that quickly rose to fame work by heating either a flavored or unflavored liquid to a boiling point, which results in an inhalable vapor. In most variants, the liquid is made up of nicotine and different flavorings.
Researchers found that users of flavored e-cigs are probably inhaling Benzaldehyde, a chemical that’s usually found in cosmetics and some food items. According to Eureka Alert, Benzaldehyde is reported to be a key element in natural fruit flavorings.
However, animal and workplace exposure studies have revealed that inhaling this chemical can be a hazard for the airways.
Senior author Maciej Goniewicz, an assistant professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., and his team analyzed the level of chemicals in the e-cigarettes with the help of an automatic smoke inhaler.
Goniewicz’s team then measured the benzaldehyde concentration in 30 puffs coming from 145 separate e-cigarette liquids; 40 of those liquids were berry/tropical fruit; 37 were tobacco; 12 were alcohol; 11 were chocolate/sweet; 11 were coffee/tea; 10 were mint/menthol; 10 were cherry; and 11 were other flavors.
Researchers detected Benzaldehyde in 108 of 145 samples. Goniewicz explained that the flavors in the e-cigarettes could be the ones causing negative side effects, such as coughing.
However, Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, an e-cigarette industry group, gave a statement saying that such findings prove that e-cigarettes are still the better alternative when compared to regular and traditional tobacco cigarettes.
They pointed to the health risk brought by combustion cigarettes, which “expose smokers to over 7,000 chemicals including more than 60 known or suspected carcinogens.” Compared to these, vaping presents substantially less risk.
According to this research, it would take 3 years of vaping on cherry e-cigs to reach the limit of 8-hour work shift permissible occupational exposure. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that e-cigarettes do not need proper regulation, as explained by Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association.
He told WebMD that the study is “another piece of evidence that we don’t know what’s in those things.” Dr. Edelman also urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to come up with a regulating policy as soon as possible.
At the same time, the FDA should find out what is in them, he advised. Benzaldehyde might be safe when ingested or applied to the skin, but complications may ensue when this chemical is inhaled.
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