Once again, Flavourart.it “Clearstream” brings a challenge to anyone involved in the researching and reporting of ecigs and ecig effectiveness or safety. FA Clearstream is making a simple statement that requires scientific thought vs. repeating, or buying in to a couple of bunk press releases/statements. Please comment after reading.
Too much speculation has been addressed towards the public about the adverse effects of e-cigarettes in recent times. And it is even more interesting (but also weird at the same time) that most of the speculation comes from scientific associations or members of the state that work on the public health sector.
One of the “unwritten laws” of science is that scientists should never present their personal opinion as a scientific statement, especially when the public is addressed. It is an absolute necessity to provide scientific data behind any statement.
The e-cigarette has been under attack by most of the public health authorities. They usually start by saying that there are no scientific data on the safety of e-cigarette, on the next phrase they mention that they are a threat for the public health. This is another interesting aspect…..
But where does the truth lie? First of all, what is an e-cigarette? It is a battery-powered device that produces vapor by evaporating a liquid contained inside a cartridge. It does not involve burning of a solid substance like tobacco smoking does. E-cigarettes are produced and marketed as an alternative to smoking. However, I have never seen any public statement from health officials indicating that e-cigarette is to be used by smokers as an alternative to regular cigarettes. And obviously, if they made such a statement, how could they back that e-cigarette is a health hazard for smokers? Let us not forget, tobacco contains almost 4000 substances, approximately 200 of them are known or potential carcinogens and several are cardiotoxic. On the contrary, the liquid used in e-cigarettes basically consists of water, glycerin and/or propylene glycol (both are safe for human use and have been used in food processing and medicinal products among others), flavorings-aromas (used in the food industry) and nicotine in some of them. Therefore, who can believe and suggest that the e-cigarette, which contains in total 3-10 substances, may in any way be more dangerous compared to tobacco smoking? There is no logic behind such a statement from a theoretical standpoint.
But let’s address the scientific data already available. Nicotine is mainly toxic when ingested or by accidental skin contact. We know that nicotine is NOT carcinogenic when inhaled. Moreover, nicotine has a minor (if any) effect on the initiation or propagation of atherosclerosis (Ambrose JA and coworkers, J Am Coll Cardiol 2004) compared with the devastating consequences of other substances present in tobacco smoke. In addition to the above, studies by Bullen and coworkers (Tobacco Control 2010-University of Auckland, New Zealand) and Vansickel and coworkers (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Rev 2010-Virginia Commonwealth University) found that the amount of nicotine absorbed by using an e-cigarette is 10 times less than the amount absorbed by smoking 1 cigarette. And just to remind everyone, several pharmaceutical nicotine-containing products are currently approved and available on the market as smoking cessation aids, including nicotine inhalers.
The FDA in the US performed some toxicology tests and found traces of nitrosamines (carcinogenic substances) in some of the liquids used for e-cigarettes. However, they forgot (?) to mention the amount of nitrosamines found in these liquids. Moreover, they forgot (?) to compare them with the amount of nitrosamines found in tobacco cigarettes. Cahn and coworkers (University of California) published a table in the Journal of Public Health comparing the amount of nitrosamines found in e-cigarettes with those found in various brands of cigarettes. Only 8ng of nitrosamines per ml of e-cigarette liquid were found, compared to 3365-9290ng per 1 cigarette. That is 500-1400 times less in e-cigarettes. Which of them do you thing is dangerous for the public health? Adding to that, the results of several toxicological tests on e-cigarettes, performed by University Laboratories have been recently published. Most of them have shown absolutely NO traces of nitrosamines or other carcinogenic substances.
I could mention several more studies that have been published worldwide. I could also reveal data from ongoing research, including my own research on a clinical level.
The message that needs to be communicated to the public is this:
E-cigarettes are marketed for the smoker as a harm reduction strategy. So, any concerns or studies on their safety should be directly compared with tobacco smoking.
Although more data are certainly needed, currently available research suggests that e-cigarettes are considerably safer than tobacco smoking.
Regulation concerning the quality of production of the e-liquids should be implemented, however, banning or heavy taxing will most probably result in a black market of products that will surely be of compromised quality.
Banning e-cigarettes raises the ethical question that someone who has quit smoking through the use of e-cigarette will go back to tobacco smoke. Who will bear the ethical “weight” of such a decision?
Instead of wasting time on making public statements that are not backed by scientific data, I urge the scientific community to be actively involved in research, because e-cigarette has the potential to be a breakthrough product in reducing the personal and social adverse effects of tobacco smoke.
Konstantinos Farsalinos M.D. (article source)
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