Is vaping better than smoking - Scientists studied pee to find outAdstoppi Web Traffic
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The study, published today in the journal JAMA Network Open, didn’t measure the risks from exposures directly — only the materials the participants peed out. But the findings may help with the ongoing debate about whether e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes. After all, that’s a major selling point for the vape industry, which markets e-cigarettes as a less risky alternative. The problem is that they’re still largely unregulated, so we don’t know for certain what chemicals they contain or what those chemicals’ long-term health effects could be.
It’s important to find out: about 6.7 percent of adults reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days in a recent study, and 3.6 million high school and middle school students in the US are vaping, according to the CDC. That’s where today’s study comes in: researchers led by Maciej Goniewicz, a tobacco researcher at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, analyzed questionnaires and urine samples submitted by more than 5,100 people between 2013 and 2014 to try to spot patterns of chemical exposures in their pee.
It’s a massive study, which is why it’s important, says Gideon St. Helen, a tobacco researcher at the University of California, San Francisco who was not involved in the research. “You don’t have many big studies like that that have looked at e-cigarette use, tobacco cigarette use, and dual-use, and have biomarker data for all of these people,” he says. “It’s a very thorough work,” agrees Robert Strong, an organic chemist at Portland State University who also did not participate in the research. But he worries that people will see the results and think e-cigarettes are safe. In fact, Strong comes to the opposite conclusion. “It confirms that they’re really not as safe as people say. We just don’t know how unsafe they are yet.”
Today’s paper comes out of the massive, long-term Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, which looks at tobacco and electronic cigarette use across the US. Most of the electronic cigarette users in the study, the researchers found, were former smokers who had quite a few years before enrolling. The people who used both, known as dual-users, smoked roughly the same amount of cigarettes as the smokers but vaped less than the vapers.