Are e-cigarettes harmless?

Are e-cigarettes harmless?

Using our “Ask the Experts!” form, Matthew Guidetti asked Know Science about

Are they healthy or not? 

Are they worse or better than normal cigarettes? 

What are their side effects?

Scientists have published more than 300 scientific papers on e-cigarettes since 2009. Before the first e-cigarette set foot on the market, when it was just a niche habit or an alternative to cigarettes for the elite, scientists all over the globe were already busy studying with e-cigarettes.1 Data published on e-cigarettes ranges from their mode of action to how the route of administration alters their effects to whether they are ultimately safer than conventional cigarettes.

Why has all this science not reached the public? Why are people still uncertain about e-cigarettes when we [scientists] know so much?

Know Science put two of our scientists, cancer expert Dr. Simona Giunta and brain biologist Dr. . Ilaria Ceglia, on the task of extracting comprehensible information from the jungle of published data.

So, what’s the consensus?

Here are three main conclusions. Some are predictable, others definitely worth knowing!
1. E-cigarettes are a great way to stop smoking.

2. E-cigarettes are dangerous but in a different way than normal cigarettes. While tarmac and other toxic substances are not present in e-cigarettes, the metal in many e-cigarettes produced upon vaporization have been shown to release heavy metals, which you inhale with each puff.1-2 A better alternative are all-ceramic e-cigarettes, which do not contain metallic parts.

3. E-cigarettes still contain all of the side effects associated with nicotine use, including changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and the propensity to cause lung.3,4 Ingesting large quantities of nicotine, whichever the route, is not advisable from a health perspective.


A benefit of e-cigarettes over conventional cigarettes is that they can facilitate smoking cessation.5-6

Lung cancer is the number one killer cancer in the world for both men and women. It accounts for 13% of all new cancers and a recent, extremely well controlled study showed convincingly that approximately 90% of lung cancers are due to smoking [i][ii]. This means that if the all the smokers quit tomorrow, the incidence of lung cancers overall would decrease by over 10%.

Now that you know the [scientific] truth about e-cigarettes, will you embrace the [scientific] truth about health and change your life accordingly?


Thanks for reading,

The Know Science team




iiU.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2004.


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