September 20, 2016
1 min read

Flavorings, high voltage cause elevated toxicity of e-cigarettes

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Adding flavors and intensifying the power of e-cigarettes substantially increases toxicity, according to study results published in Tobacco Control.

“Although many of the flavorings used in e-cigarette liquids have been certified as safe for eating, little is known about their effects when heated and inhaled in e-cigarettes,” Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, lead researcher and assistant professor of oncology in the department of health behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in a recent news release about the study. “This study suggests that various characteristics of e-cigarettes, including any flavorings, may induce inhalation toxicity and, therefore, caution should be used with these products until more comprehensive studies are performed.”

Goniewicz and colleagues assessed the cell viability and metabolic activity along with the release of inflammatory mediators of bronchial cells that were exposed to e-cigarette aerosol. Researchers tested several types of e-cigarettes with varying battery output voltages containing flavored liquids, including tobacco, piña colada, menthol, coffee and strawberry.

Results indicated that cell viability and metabolic activity were reduced, and the release of inflammatory mediators was increased. These findings suggest that battery output voltage and the addition of flavorings result in a higher toxicity of e-cigarette aerosol. Overall, the strawberry flavored aerosol was the most toxic.

“Our study demonstrates that e-cigarette products differ significantly in the degree of their cellular toxicity to bronchial epithelial cells,” Goniewicz said in the release. “These findings have important regulatory implications, because the features of e-cigarette products — such as the power of the device and the presence of flavorings — can be regulated and standardized. Additionally, users may want to reduce their potential harm by choosing products with lower toxicity profile and operating their devices at lower power settings.” – by Alaina Tedesco

Disclosure: The researchers report funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Please see news release for additional relevant financial disclosures.