On Thursday, Japanese scientists announced that e-cigarettes contain 10 times the level of cancer-causing carcinogens than its counterpart in the tobacco world. At one time, e-cigarettes were touted as the answer to smoking without the complication of so many dangers.
The electronic devices are popular around the world, particularly among people under 25. E-cigarettes work by heating flavored water, which often contains nicotine, into vapor. The vapor is then inhaled, reports Business Insider.
Researchers in Japan were commissioned by Japan’s Health Ministry to do the study. They discovered that carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde were present in the in the vapor produced by several brands of e-cigarettes.
Formaldehyde is found in building materials and embalming fluid. Scientists found the levels of formaldehyde were much higher in e-cigarettes compared to regular cigarettes.
One brand of e-cigarette studied had 10 times the carcinogens contained in formaldehyde.
“Especially when the… wire (which vaporizes the liquid) gets overheated, higher amounts those harmful substances seemed to be produced,” the study stated.
The new report was submitted to the ministry on Thursday. Japan does not regulate non-nicotine e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes, formally known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, are, however, subjected to Japan’s pharmaceutical laws, but they are easily purchased on the internet.
“You call them e-cigarettes, but they are products totally different from regular tobacco. The government is now studying the possible risks associated with them, with view to looking at how they should be regulated,” the ministry said.
Back in August, the World Health Organization called upon governments to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. WHO warned that they posed a serious threat to unborn babies and young people, reports the The Daily Mail.
Though there has not been extensive research on e-cigarettes, the WHO said there was enough evidence “to caution adolescents, children and pregnant women about the dangers.”
Despite the new study, supporters of e-cigarettes believe that the devices are safer than traditional tobacco that contains several toxic chemicals and gases that can cause cancer, heart disease, and strokes. Cigarettes are among the leading causes of death in several countries.
The UN health body issued a statement saying that the use of e-cigarettes should be banned from indoor public areas.
Earlier this year, U.S. health authorities said that the number of young people using e-cigarettes tripled between 2011 and 2013.
Over a quarter of a million people who never smoked cigarettes tried e-cigarettes, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.