There was a moment of misguided optimism for the opponents of electronic cigarettes with the news recently put out by the German Cancer Research Centre that suggested the inhalation of glycerine might cause lipoid pneumonia. Their moment of optimism was short-lived however, because this very suggestion is demonstrably false! According to the very definition of lipoid pneumonia, it is an impossibility for the glycerine inside e-cigarettes to be the cause of it.
As reported by Dr. Michael Siegel on his Tobacco Analysis blog, ‘lipoid pneumonia’ is caused by “oil building up in the lungs”. Glycerine cannot be the cause of this, because it is not an ‘oil’ at all. In the case of the Vegetable Glycerine (VG) that is sometimes used in e-cigarettes, that is an ‘alcohol’ derived from various plants. Glycerine is soluble in water and alcohol, but not in oil, adding yet more complications to the bizarre claims made by the German Cancer Research Centre.
In his remarks on the subject, Dr. Siegel questioned why these German researchers would make such misleading claims, when they are so obviously and totally inaccurate. We will not go down that road here; we’ll leave that for Dr. Siegel and others to speculate and discuss. However, the main point is that vegetable glycerine does not (and cannot) cause lipoid pneumonia.
And, for the record, the other ingredient that’s more usually used in e-cigarettes – propylene glycol – cannot cause it either. In fact, propylene glycol is a substance also used in asthma inhalers, as well as hundreds of other pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, food preservatives and food flavourings.
As for the vegetable glycerine, it is sometimes used in e-cigarette liquid in place of (or as well as) propylene glycol. Users who prefer glycerine-based liquids usually do so because they are sensitive to the ‘humectant’ properties of propylene glycol. As a humectant, propylene glycol can cause a dry mouth and/or dry throat for some users. Users experiencing those conditions find glycerine-based liquids to be more comfortable and enjoyable.
Now that we have set the record straight about the suggested e-cig effects when it comes to vegetable glycerine, is there anything else in an electronic cigarette that might cause lipoid pneumonia? Well according to Dr. Siegel, the only possibility might be the flavouring (that can contain essential oils). Nevertheless, he said this risk is extremely low. Dr Siegel notes that there have been no reports of lipoid pneumonia among any electronic cigarette users anywhere, despite the fact that there are now so many millions of them around the world.
Dr Siegel says this latest report from Germany is not based on any real science at all, and he continues to support the use of electronic cigarettes for harm reduction among those smokers who cannot, or do not want to quit. Like VAPESTICK, Dr Siegel believes e-cigarettes are the best tobacco alternative available today.
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