By Dr. Mercola
If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably seen the relatively new electronic cigarettes on the market. Maybe you’ve even tried them in an attempt to quit your cigarette habit.
My mom has been a smoker for over sixty years and I really don’t hassle her about it because she is not taking any medications, has a really great diet and uses a device to poke holes in her cigarettes that reduces the amount of smoke she inhales by 95%.
I have learned that it is best to allow her to have this one vice and help control the other variables, which are far more damaging to her health, but she also recently asked me about the electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes are touted as a safer, cleaner alternative to smoking, but new research suggests there’s more to the equation than meets the eye.
While they may not expose you to the thousands of toxic compounds in the average conventional cigarette, they do contain hazardous chemicals — and in some ways these entirely manmade ‘tobacco alternatives’ may be even moredangerous to your health than regular cigarettes.
How do Electronic Cigarettes Work?
When you take a puff of an electronic cigarette – which one in five current smokers1 have tried — a battery heats up a liquid that contains a flavoring (such as tobacco, menthol, cherry, vanilla, or java), a humectant (typically propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin) and, sometimes, nicotine.
As you inhale, you get a “dose” of flavored nicotine without the chemicals typically produced from burning tobacco. You also get the oral satisfaction of bringing a cigarette-like device to your mouth, which other nicotine replacements, such as the patch or gum, do not offer. While this sounds safer than traditional smoking, the short- and long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes are not entirely understood.
To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has detected a potentially deadly antifreeze chemical called diethylene glycol in an electronic cigarette cartridge,2 along with tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are linked to cancer. In the latest study, researchers hypothesized that since electronic cigarettes contain various metal components, so too might the aerosol that you inhale, and their hypothesis turned out to be right.