Journalists are absolutely desperate to write a scare story about the biggest boogie man around, e-cigarettes. When a "scientist" or "researcher" publishes a study or issues a press release, it is treated as gospel and makes the rounds pretty much everywhere with little push back.
The press release is what this story, as most vape stories are based on. I would normally link the study here and again at the bottom of the page but there hasn't been any results published.
This "study" is actually results from a very tiny preliminary study of 5 vapers and the results haven't even been presented yet (as of the time this article was published).
The scientists are planning of issuing their results as part of a presentation at the American Chemical Society, a conference that will have 10,000 other presentations on various topics. Gotta stand out from the crowd somehow, why not with a boogie man press release.
The latest scare story is about how these enterprising and original scientists, lead by the Dr. Silvia Balbo at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, who found that e-cigarettes contain detectable levels of formaldehyde, acrolein and methylglyoxal. (Methylglyoxal is found everywhere, including coffee, toast, and soy sauce in addition to cigarettes.)
Does this study sound familiar? It should. This type of study of testing for carbonyls in e-cigarette vapor is nothing new and is often repeated. This is the exact sort of test that has repeatedly found that the levels of these chemicals in e-cigarettes are far lower than in cigarette smoke.
The big problem here is the scientists don't tell what levels the substances were detected at, which leads one to think trace levels are likely and would possibly be embarrassing to publish.
The CDC has even found that levels of these same chemicals being discussed, particularly formaldehyde, are lower in second hand e-cigarette vapor that in the average American home that has carpet installed.
Actual, complete studies from the U.K. have shown that vaping is 99% less carcinogenic than smoking. Public Health England, a part of the U.K. government, even considers e-cigarettes to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
In this preliminary study, these three chemicals are known to damage DNA and these scientist have detected levels of these chemicals in the saliva of 5 vapers that were tested after 15 minutes. The researchers detected the chemicals in the mouths of the vapers at increased levels when compared to baseline.
From what I am understanding the only thing new about this study is using mass spectrometry methodology to examine DNA damage possibly caused by acrolien. This methodology was developed by the researchers for a previous study on DNA damage caused by alcohol.
They took DNA samples and found that 4 of the 5 vapers showed signs of more DNA damage than the control group. This doesn't show what caused the damage which could have been actual cigarettes among other life choices. What about that one vaper that didn't show any extra damage over control?
This study is so weak, the scientists didn't have a control group of established current smokers participate and there was no mention of the smoking history of the vapers in any of the articles published on the "study".
Again, this study doesn't really show anything new about e-cigarettes but is really just seems to showcase their DNA examination methods.
The lead scientist even makes a surprising acknowledgement that further supports the very low or trace detected levels theory.
"It's clear that more carcinogens arise from the combustion of tobacco in regular cigarettes than from the vapor of e-cigarettes"
"It's clear that more carcinogens arise from the combustion of tobacco in regular cigarettes than from the vapor of e-cigarettes," says Silvia Balbo, Ph.D., and goes on to say "Just because the threats are different doesn't mean that e-cigarettes are completely safe."
Straw-man much? No one is saying the devices are "completely safe" just far less harmful than smoking.
At least she admitted what we all know; that there are far more carcinogens in cigarettes than e-cigs. That obvious fact is often overlooked by the media and lawmakers. Any findings about or statements of relative harm are usually shoved at the end of an article, if mentioned at all.
"Comparing e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes is really like comparing apples and oranges. The exposures are completely different," Balbo says. "We still don't know exactly what these e-cigarette devices are doing and what kinds of effects they may have on health, but our findings suggest that a closer look is warranted."
I can almost smell the grant money from here.