Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are rapidly increasing in popularity but little information is available on their potential toxic or carcinogenic effects.


Twenty-eight e-cigarette smokers who had not smoked tobacco cigarettes for at least 2 months provided urine samples which were analyzed by validated methods for a suite of toxicant and carcinogen metabolites including 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HOP), 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol and its glucuronides (total NNAL), 3-hydroxypropylmercapturic acid (3-HPMA), 2-hydroxypropylmercapturic acid (2-HPMA), 3-hydroxy-1-methylpropylmercapturic acid (HMPMA), S -phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), nicotine, and cotinine. Levels of these compounds were compared to those found in cigarette smokers from three previous studies.


Levels of 1-HOP, total NNAL, 3-HPMA, 2-HPMA, HMPMA, and SPMA were significantly lower in the urine of e-cigarette users compared to cigarette smokers. Levels of nicotine and cotinine were significantly lower in e-cigarette users compared to cigarette smokers in one study but not in another.


With respect to the compounds analyzed here, e-cigarettes have a more favorable toxicity profile than tobacco cigarettes.

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