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Following the publication in the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ) of the latest study on Formaldehyde in e-cigarettes there has been a slew of criticism of the methodology of the study, which calls into question the both the competency of the researchers and the ethics (or lack of) behind it's publication.

This study was published as a letter in the NEJM and according to Reuters was peer reviewed. It found that e-cigarettes, when used at high voltage, might produce formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen, in amounts which could create a fifteen fold increase in the risk of cancer when compared to tobacco cigarettes. For reasons that have been amply described by others this study was so flawed it is all but worthless, other than as a lesson for future researchers as to how NOT to do it.

In a nutshell, they used a clearomiser designed to operate at about 7 watts and pushed 12 watts through it, took samples via a puff machine then reported their results. In earlier, unrelated studies undertaken by Doctor Farsalinos it was found that the acrid burnt taste (this is known as a 'dry hit') produced by the same clearomiser at 9 watts rendered it unusable by human subjects.

Read more about the flaws in this latest study at the following links:

http://www.clivebates.com/?p=2706

http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php/2013-04-07-09-50-07/2015/191-form-nejm

http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-study-reports-high-levels-of.html

https://nzillatron.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/freaking-formaldehyde/

http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php/2013-04-07-09-50-07/2015/192-form-ver

Fergus Mason: Formaldehyde Strikes Again

http://ecita.org.uk/ecita-blog/first-burn-barrel-then-scrape-it-commentary-letter-published-nejm

The effect of the media coverage of this study will, even despite the best efforts of those who sought to debunk it as the news broke, be to reduce the confidence of smokers considering switching to e-cigarettes that these products are a vastly safer alternative to smoking tobacco. Both vapers and scientists immediately spotted the obvious flaws with this study within minutes of its publication. When will certain elements of the scientific community learn that they shouldn't meddle with things they don't understand, and that if they do their ignorance will be very quickly exposed?

No one is saying that e-cigarettes are completely safe but it's is worth noting that even this study found no formaldehyde hemiacetal formation at normal operating levels. Different atomisers have different operating ranges, which is why there are variable voltage batteries available. A useful study would have determined at what point carcinogenic aldehydes start to form, so that users could be better advised on the safe use of these products. In the meantime no doubt users will continue to do what they have always done naturally - avoid inhaling a dry hit because it tastes nasty. Something which puff machines can only dream of.


 

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