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What Safe? E-Cigarettes Found to Contain 10 Times More Carcinogens than Regular Cigarettes

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The latest study on e-cigarettes would surely disappoint users of the device particularly those who use it in lieu of traditional tobacco products for health concerns.

It appears that contrary to long-held beliefs, electronic cigarette is not safer than its traditional counterparts. In fact, it may even be more dangerous in terms of the number of cancer causing agents some-cigarette fluid brands contain.

On Thursday, a team of Japanese scientists that was commissioned by Japan's Health Ministry to conduct a study on the increasingly popular electronic device revealed that the vapor of some brands of e-cigarette fluids have up to ten times the level of carcinogen compared with regular tobacco.

For their study, Naoki Kunugita, from the National Institute of Public Health of Japan's Department of Environmental Health, and colleagues used a special machine to analyze several cartridges of e-cigarette fluids and found cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde, which is used in embalming, and acetaldehyde in the vapors produced by some of these brands.

Formaldehyde in particular was detected at much higher levels compared with the carcinogen that are found in the smoke of traditional cigarettes. The substance has been classified by the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a human carcinogen and is associated with the development of myeloid leukemia, nasal sinus cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer.

Kunugita said that the amount of detected formaldehyde varied during the course of their analysis but one brand was found to contain over 10 times the amount of carcinogen present in a regular cigarette.

"In one brand of e-cigarette the team found more than 10 times the level of carcinogens contained in one regular cigarette," Kunugita told the AFP.

The researchers likewise noticed that higher amounts of the dangerous substances are being produced when the wire of the device that vaporizes the fluid gets over heated.

The researchers said that the findings show that e-cigarettes are not as harmless as some people believe them to be. Supporters of the device contend that using it is a safer alternative to smoking traditional tobacco which has been shown to cause a number of health maladies such as cancer, strokes and heart diseases and is considered to be among the leading causes of preventable deaths.

"The most important finding is that the vapor contained recognized carcinogens," said Hiroyuki Noda, from the tobacco-free initiative of Japan's health ministry. "Our panel of experts will now look into what possible effects those substances could have on the health of e-cigarette users."

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