A recent study has identified benzaldehyde, a key chemical used in flavored e-cigarette cartridges, as posing a greater health risk than once believed. Are e-cigs really that safe?
As we reported earlier, a recent study from scientists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. showed that a certain chemical found in flavored electronic cigarettes, benzaldehyde could cause some pretty serious health issues. According to a HealthDay News report, the study suggests that electronic cigarettes may not be as healthy as some researchers would like you to believe.
E-cigs are billed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, but does this mean they’re really okay to consume? Many doctors hold the perspective that smoking traditional tobacco products is so bad that anything that can get a person to stop smoking is beneficial to their health: enter e-cigarettes.
Filled with a tiny vial of flavored glycerin and varying levels of nicotine, a heating element vaporizes the cartridge and creates a cool, thick cloud of vapor of any flavor under the sun. Nicotine concentrations can be tapered down over time to decrease a person’s dependency on the chemical, and many e-cig users have credited the device as instrumental in helping them quit smoking.
But the recent study suggests that e-cigs are not completely benign, either. Scientists identified benzaldehyde, the main component in cherry and almond flavors, as a key irritant found in flavored e-cig cartridges. Out of 145 flavored cartridges examined in the study, 108 contained benzaldehyde, which was shown to irritate the body’s airways when it was inhaled.
Benzaldehyde appears in a number of artificially flavored products, from candy to cough syrup. It is completely healthy to eat, but consuming it via an e-cigarette could cause irreparable damage to the lungs and throat.
According to Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior advisor for the American Lung Association, “To me, it’s another piece of evidence that we don’t know what’s in those things. It’s terribly important that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration use its power to regulate them. The first thing they can do is find out what is in them.”
The study confirms what e-cig fans likely don’t want to hear – that the devices are not 100 percent healthy, and could still be shown to have adverse health effects in future large scale studies.
A press release from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute describing the details of the recent study can be found here.