Researchers in Oregon have found a hidden form of formaldehyde in chemical compounds that make up e-cigarettes. Translation? If you smoke vapor cigarettes, you may not actually be reducing your risk of cancer.
In fact, the study found e-cigarettes contained up to 15 times higher levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde than regular cigarettes did. In the past, vapor cigarettes have been touted as the healthier way to smoke. So, why has science had a sudden change of heart?
Blame it all on the heat. As CBS News explains, e-cigarettes were thought to be healthier because they didn’t require fire which eliminated the release of toxic chemicals due to combustion. However, many newer models of e-cigarettes have the ability to operate at higher heat levels and that heat is what releases the formaldehyde-containing compounds.
Critics of the study claim that the findings are unrealistic because smokers would not actually use the cigarettes at such high voltage. And on the bright side, the research found that when operated at low voltages e-cigarettes did not release the formaldehyde.
James F. Pankow, co-author of the study, clarifies that it’s still too early to really know how bad they are, but the bottom line is simply don’t smoke e-cigarettes at high voltages. He told NBC News, “We are not saying e-cigarettes are more hazardous than cigarettes. We are only looking at one chemical. … The jury is really out on how safe these drugs are.”
For now, keep voltages low. Or to really err on the side of caution, just quit smoking.