Can Electronic Cigarettes Cause Cancer?

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

It is a question that everyone who vapes – and a fair few that haven't – have asked from time to time, but can using an e-cigarette give you cancer? While this may seem like a straightforward question that has a simple "yes" or "no" answer, in reality, our understanding of the long-term effects of using an electronic cigarette are patchy at best.

Electronic Cigarettes Vs. Traditional Tobacco

It is the match up that everyone is dying to see – in one corner, the up-and-coming new boy, in the other, the punch-drunk prizefighter, once a hero to many, now cutting a forlorn figure. I'm talking, of course, about the battle that's taking place in the nation's hearts, minds and lungs between vaping and smoking. While it seems that smokers are a dying breed these days, every year vaping is becoming more and more popular, both within the UK and in the world at large. Approximately 2.6 million adults use vaporisers or e-cigarettes and while this is still a quarter of the ten-million or so smokers, it's a positive trend. The Oxford English Dictionary even went as far to make "Vape" its "Word of the Year" back in 2014.

While this is all very interesting, it doesn't really address the issue of whether or not e-cigs can cause cancer. Again, I repeat that the question is not as cut and dry as it might seem; it is interesting to note that while there is no consensus among the medical community regarding the long-term dangers posed by electronic cigarettes and vaping, you can see easily see the benefits when comparing using a vapour-based nicotine delivery system as opposed to tobacco.

Round One: Ingredients

Cigarettes

Most traditional cigarettes contain a number of different dangerous chemicals – in cigarette smoke there are approximately 4000 chemicals. I wouldn't waste your time by listing them all, but for your edification, here are the highlights:

  • Ammonia
  • Arsenic
  • Butane
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Cyanide
  • DDT
  • Lead
  • Polonium

As you can see for yourself, it's not exactly what you want in your body. Fungicides, poisons and carcinogens – everyone knows that smoking's bad for you but does everyone understand just what they're inhaling?

E-Cigarettes

Most E-Cigarette cartridges have exactly four ingredients:

  1. Vegetable Glycerin (widely used in the food industry)
  2. Propylene Glycol (another product widely recognised as being safe for food)
  3. Nicotine (not the best thing for you, but on it's own unlikely to have lasting impact)
  4. Flavouring (this sounds worryingly vague but really covers a number of commonly used additives)

While there are a few chemicals that are used in e-cigarettes, the number is inconsequential when considered alongside the amount of chemicals can be found in an E-Cigarette. Most varieties of e-cigarettes and e-liquids even offer a nicotine free alternative that allows for even healthier use.

Round Two: Studies

Cigarettes

It's gotten to the point where there is such a strong body of proof that accepts that cigarettes directly cause cancer that future studies no longer question this fact. Listed below are a few of the cancers to which smoking has been scientifically linked.

  • Lung Cancer (Duh)
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Cancer of the Larynx
  • Cancer of the Head and Neck
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Cancer of the Oesophagus
  • Cancer of the Pancreas
  • Stomach Cancer

And even if it hadn't been linked to all these different forms of cancer, cigarettes are linked to a range of other diseases, including heart disease, impotence, pulmonary issues, and even psychological problems.

E-Cigarettes

Again, it is important to stress that there really isn't any data for what happens when you use an e-cigarette for 20 - 30 years – as far as we know both your legs could drop off (though this is highly unlikely). At the moment, unlike cigarettes, there is no consensus about whether or not e-cigarettes are harmful to you. As one study states: "It is obvious that some residual risk associated with [electronic cigarette] use may be present, but this is probably trivial compared with the devastating consequences of smoking."

I think that that about sums it up – while e-cigarettes may be bad for you, they are nowhere near as bad for you as smoking tobacco. Here at Vape Mountain, we try and stress as far as possible that non-smokers have no business using e-cigarettes – they're designed to be a safer alternative to tobacco rather than as a fun activity that is completely free from danger. E-cigarettes are definitely the lesser of two evils, especially when it comes to nicotine.

Round 3: Deaths

Cigarettes

It is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide smoke and that there are 5 million smoking-related deaths per year. To put that into perspective, every six seconds, someone dies because of his or her smoking. Even in the UK, which has a comprehensive system of healthcare, 100,000 people die annually from smoking. It is a chilling thought and it begs the question: "would this have happened if they were using e-cigarettes?"

E-Cigarettes

Again, due to the fact that E-Cigarettes are a relatively new invention, there is little data to tell whether or not they can cause death. If cigarettes had been invented over ten years ago, would we have an understanding of their consequences? What we do know is that there have been very few deaths directly linked with e-cigarette or vaping use. Deaths that have occurred are usually the tragic result of ingesting e-liquid (which we definitely advise against) but this can be true of any product when misused.

Knockout: E-Cigarettes

Although my boxing metaphor has outstayed its welcome, I think that I have made my point. We really don't know whether or not e-cigarettes cause cancer but we know two things for certain:

  1. Using E-cigarettes is more dangerous than using nothing at all
  2. Using E-cigarettes is far less dangerous than smoking

If you are a smoker and fancy taking a chance on e-cigarettes, why don't you check out our online shop, where you'll find a wide range of products in multiple delicious flavours.