E-cigarette dangers go beyond cancer


Electronic cigarettes are devices that heat a nicotine solution to create a vapor that users inhale, rather than the smoke of traditional cigarettes.

The use of electronic cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults, a trend that alarms U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD.

E-cigarettes contain a concentrated and more potent dose of nicotine than tobacco cigarettes, which is particularly dangerous for teens. Nicotine affects brain development, which continues to about age 25.

There may be no cancer-causing tobacco or tar in electronic cigarettes, but Murthy’s office points out that other harmful ingredients cause serious lung diseases.

In addition, the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be lethal. Just a quarter teaspoon is enough to kill a toddler, according to an article in the journal Clinical Toxicology written by doctors of pharmacy William Eggleston, Jeanna Marraffa and Christine Stork and Nicholas Nacca, MD. The four work together at the Upstate New York Poison Center in Syracuse.

They reported that the American Association of Poison Control Centers saw a 236 percent increase in calls related to e-liquid exposure in 2014, compared with the previous three years. “Nearly 60 percent of those exposures involved children less than 5 years of age,” the article says, before noting that any liquid nicotine product should be kept out of reach of children.

Layout 1This article appears in the winter 2017 issue of Cancer Care magazine. Hear a radio interview/podcast about e-cigarettes with Leslie Kohman, MD.


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