Electronic Cigarettes Produce Damaging Free Radicals

A study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology has reported for the first time that electronic cigarettes produce free radicals, the toxins responsible for smoking-related diseases, including cancer.


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have gained popularity, and there is even the perception that they are a ‘healthier’ option to conventional cigarettes. However, there is relatively little known about the negative effects of e-cigarettes, or the toxic substances that are produced as a result of vaping.

We have previously reported on the use of e-cigarettes:

‘The Debate Heats up Over Electronic Cigarettes’

‘E-cigarette Use Among Adolescents is Associated with Increased Smoking of Combustible Tobacco’

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, United States, systematically investigated the toxins produced by e-cigarette aerosols. Despite the fact that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine via water vapour instead of burning tobacco, the researchers found that they still produce a large amount of highly reactive free radicals. Free radicals are the primary source of oxidative stress resulting from cigarette smoke. These free radicals have damaging effects on cells, and are the leading cause of smoking-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

While the amount of free radicals detected from e-cigarettes was less than what is seen with conventional cigarettes, this is the first study to reveal potential harms associated with free-radicals resulting from the use of e-cigarettes. The researchers state that further study is necessary to determine the extent of damage that can be done by this level of free radicals.



Reema Goel, Erwann Durand, Neil Trushin, Bogdan Prokopczyk, Jonathan Foulds, Ryan J. Elias, and John P. RichieJr. “Highly Reactive Free Radicals in Electronic Cigarette Aerosols” Chem Res Toxicol. 2015.






Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

Facebook Comments