The key difference between conventional and e-cigarettes is that e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco. But, it isn’t just the tobacco in cigarettes that causes cancer. Conventional cigarettes contain a laundry list of chemicals that are proven harmful, and e-cigarettes have some of these same chemicals.
Nicotine is one of the chemicals found in both conventional and e-cigarettes. It is highly addictive and has been shown to reduce bone health.5
An analysis of e-cigarettes by the FDA in 2009 found that they “contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could be exposed.”6 For example, in e-cigarette cartridges marketed as “tobacco-free,” the FDA detected diethylene glycol (a toxic compound found in antifreeze), tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are carcinogenic to humans, and other toxic tobacco-specific impurities. The body’s reaction to many of the chemicals in conventional cigarette smoke causes chronic inflammation, which in turn leads to chronic diseases like bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease.7 Since e-cigarettes also contain many of the same toxic chemicals, there is no reason to believe that they will significantly reduce the risks for these diseases.
You may have also heard that free radicals produced by the smoke from cigarettes can damage veins and arteries and lead to heart disease. It is possible that the vapor from e-cigarettes may contain fewer free radicals because it is not smoke. This does not mean, however, that smoking e-cigarettes is safe for your heart.