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Smoking e-cigarettes exposes you to cancer causing benzene

Harold Mandel's picture
Smoking an e-cigarette

There seems to be the belief among many e-cigarette smokers that they are not at an increased risk for cancer as are people who smoke regular cigarettes. However researchers say that in e-cigarettes operating at high power cancer causing benzene is present.


Smoking e-cigarettes has become a very trendy thing to do. The advertising for e-cigarettes makes them appear to be a tasty safe thing to smoke. However evidence has been emerging that smoking e-cigarettes may be associated with an increased risk for cancer.

Benzene is found in e-cigarette vapors

Portland State University reports that significant levels of benzene are found in e-cigarette vapors which are operated at high power. Benzene causes cancer.

Benzene is the largest cancer risk air toxin present in the United States

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Chemistry professor James F. Pankow headed this research. Benzene is a component of gasoline. This chemical has been associated with many diseases including bone marrow failure and leukemia. Benzene is present in urban air due to industrial emissions and unburned gas in exhaust and fuel tank leaks. This chemical has been noted as being the largest cancer risk air toxin present in the United States.

The amount of benzene found in e-cigarette smoke was found to vary depending on the device. At high power one device which had the chemicals benzoic acid or benzaldehyde present had benzene levels in the smoke which were thousands of times higher than benzene levels in ambient air. These levels were still considerably lower than regular cigarettes, which deliver a considerable amount of benzene.

In one of the devices benzene was detected at power levels which were set well within the range of power settings recommended by the manufacturer. And the power levels which were used in the study were significantly lower than those levels which are available to users on some devices, which can be higher than 200 watts.

PLOS ONE has reported on this study. Heating of fluids which are used in e-cigarettes creates “vaping” aerosols which lead to the formation of many degradation reaction products. Researchers have determined that repeated exposure to benzene from e-cigarettes leads to a significant health risk. The exposure to benzene and potential for an increased risk of cancer should be considerations when your friends ask you to join them for some vaping.