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Research snapshot: E-cigarettes may result in lower consumed toxicants for users, says new UMN research

E-cigarettes are a quickly growing market, and potentially for good reason. New research out of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota shows the metabolized levels of disease-causing compounds are significantly lower in e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes.

The research, published online in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, compared compounds found in urine and blood of e-cigarette users to samples from a historical database of users of traditional cigarettes. The e-cigarette users had been using the devices for at least a month and hadn’t had cigarettes in at least two months.

“Because of the huge variety in origin and design of e-cigarette products, it’s difficult to assess a standard set of conditions for compounds in these devices,” said Stephen Hecht, Ph.D., Wallin Land Grant Professor of Cancer Prevention in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and member of the Masonic Cancer Center. “We decided to compare the actual constituent uptake in users, to get a more accurate picture of how these compounds were interacting with the body.”

Hecht led the study in partnership with Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D., associate director for Cancer Prevention and Control in the Masonic Cancer Center and Forster Family Professor in Cancer Prevention in the Department of Psychiatry.

“There are still a lot of questions about e-cigarettes and the variety of use,” said Hatsukami. “While the results of this analysis are promising and interesting, there is still a long way to go to understand the best ways to reduce and regulate exposure to disease-causing compounds found in nicotine products.”

One thing researchers noted as similar between samples from both e-cigarette and cigarette users was nicotine levels. Both groups were getting the same amount of nicotine from the products, but in e-cigarette users the toxicants and cancer-causing agents appeared to be much lower and similar to levels of nonsmokers.

Because the research was done comparing a small sample of e-cigarette users to a historical database, researchers on the project are now looking to expand the study.

The study is recruiting exclusive e-cigarette users, smokers of regular cigarettes and non-smokers, please call 612-624-4568.

“The results show disease-causing compounds are significantly lower in e-cigarette users, and this may be a promising result for many people looking to decrease exposure,” said Hecht. “Still, the results aren’t saying e-cigarettes are a safe alternative for smokers. We need to do much more research before we can fully understand what users can expect from this emerging and expanding market of products.”


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  1. January 26, 2016 9:35 pm | Robert J Slack Says:

    Hello, my name is Robert Slack I was/am a patient of Dr. Frank Ondrey down at the U of M, I had throat cancer and had my right vocal cord removed and I quit smoking via using an E-cigarette/Vaporizer and I have tobacco free since 2/12/14. I have felt no adverse effects in the last two years of being a Vaporizer ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery System) user. As a matter of fact I’ve never felt healthier. I truly believe these are a life saver for many people, it helped kick a habit that would have taken me. Since my cancer battle, I’ve encouraged quite a few people to quit smoking, some cold turkey some using a vaporizer. I was cancer free still as of my last scope of my throat back in late 2014, I’m due for another laryngeal scope but I am true believer in what this product can do for smokers in quitting. I have been vaping for two years straight now and I’ve got nothing but good testimonials about what the product can do. I do believe they are an excellent option for smokers and ex smokers who still crave nicotine. But I’ve always been a firm believer if someone has never smoked to not use one. I even went to work in a vape shop for a little while to help spread my good luck story.

    I’m a very strong advocate and supporter of vaporizers/ ENDS, I believe the name E-cigarette should be dropped from the terminology as the only thing that looks like a cigarette is something that is bought of a gas station and is produced by big tobacco companies. All other forms of vaporizers and E-liquids on the market have liquids that are made ISO 9001 clean labs and regulated by the industry standards. I have very close ties with a E-liquid manufacturer and have made a pay it forward mission to encourage smokers to quit as part of my success of winning my cancer battle.

    I was a two pack a day heavy smoker for 20 years and that is what led into my right vocal cord being paralyzed and turning cancerous. 2 years later I have a full voice back and I am back in is as good a health as can be expected after going through that battle.

    Anyhow if you are looking for someone who has ties to the industry and also a user of vaping/ ENDS products I’m a go to guy. I’ve done nothing but study the industry and follow the researches that have happened since I quit tobacco and beat throat cancer.

    Anyhow I am pro-vape and I know a multitude of people who have successfully switched from tobacco to vaping and have not looked back. Is it 100 percent safer than tobacco, I will agree that it isn’t as of yet, but is it much safer than any tobacco product that I will agree too. It’s the lesser of two evils and a little 6mg liquid nicotine bottle poses about as much harm as a cup of coffee.

    Any feedback or help I can be I would love to contribute.