Two new studies found that certain e-cigarettes produce formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent, the New York Times reported.
E-cigarette tank systems can generate the carcinogen when the liquid nicotine and other e-cigarette ingredients vaporize at a high temperature, the paper said.
"Looking at ingredients is one thing, and very important," researcher Maciej L. Goniewicz, an assistant professor of oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, told the Times. "But to have a comprehensive picture, you have to look at the vapor."
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A second study focused on formaldehyde and other toxins that form with increased concentration during "dripping," in which users who desire a bigger nicotine kick add drops of the fluid right onto the e-cigarette's heating mechanism. That's when formaldehyde levels approach those found in cigarettes, Dr. Alan Shihadeh, a project head at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, told the Times.
Formaldehyde is considered a "known human carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Laws to regulate electronic cigarettes in the same manner as cigarettes are taking effect in New York and Chicago, while the FDA has proposed its own regulations.
But the debate over whether e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes -- and whether they can be marketed as such -- continues to smolder, the Associated Press writes.