To vape or not to vape? That question has been bouncing around since the cloud chasers started coming onto the nicotine scene a few years ago. Ostensibly, using e-cigs is safer than smoking cigarettes since you aren’t, you know, inhaling a burning leaf, but it’s still new tech and the studies out there are still largely inconclusive. Some say e-cigarettes are unequivocally better than cigarettes. Some say they're a "public health crisis." Some say: Eh they're probably better, at least as long as it stops you from lighting up more cancer sticks. (Which they may not.)
A new British study funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine took a more direct approach in figuring out whether being a vape bro is doing you more good (to your body, not your social life) than smoking tobacco. They set up an experiment that tested the saliva and urine of smokers, and compared it to that of former smokers who used e-cigs exclusively for at least six months, as well as samples from former smokers who used nicotine replacement therapy (ie, gum or patches) for 6 months.
The researchers found that while nicotine levels were about the same in all groups, the amount of toxic chemicals and carcinogens that were detected were significantly lower in the vapers and the nicotine replacement folks. The smokers, not surprisingly, were still filled with toxic goo and tar and other carcinogens.
“We’ve shown that the levels of toxic chemicals in the body from e-cigarettes are considerably lower than suggested in previous studies using simulated experiments," said lead author Lion Shahab, Ph.D., from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London. 'This means some doubts about the safety of e-cigarettes may be wrong.”
Alison Cox, the director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, added: “This study adds to growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco, and suggests the long-term effects of these products will be minimal.”
OK, vapers: You win this round (and we hope you keep winning, since smoking sucks). But can you please just stop having vaping contests and blowing your clouds in people's faces uninvited? Not cool.