Cherry Flavored E-Cigarettes Are the Most Dangerous Kind, Says Study

By May Wilkerson 02/03/16

The cherry flavoring contains high doses of benzaldehyde which is a chemical used in cosmetics and creating natural fruit flavors in food.

Cherry-Flavored E-Cigarettes Are the Most Dangerous Kind, Says Study
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If you choose to vape, you may want to avoid cherry flavored e-cigs. Health experts have expressed concerns about the potential dangers of smoking electronic cigarettes, which come in a range of flavors, like cherry. And a new study finds that long-term exposure to heavy amounts of this flavor of e-cig vapor may irritate the lungs, possibly causing damage to your health.

A study conducted by Maciej Goniewicz, an oncology assistant professor at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, found that 108 out of 145 varieties of flavored e-cigarettes contained high levels of the benzaldehyde, a chemical which can irritate the respiratory system. Heavy exposure to the chemical could cause long-term health damage, said researchers.

Benzaldehyde is a chemical compound often found in food, pharmaceutical drugs, and cosmetic products, like perfume. According to Goniewicz, it often smells like almonds and tastes like almonds or cherries. Though relatively harmless in small amounts, inhaling too much benzaldehyde could be harmful.

Various animal studies found that exposure to benzaldehyde can irritate the eyes, skin, and airways. Symptoms in people heavily exposed to the chemical may include coughing or sore throats. "If someone is using electronic cigarettes right now and experiences some of these side effects, this study suggests that they should try a different flavoring that might be less irritating to the users," said Goniewicz.

Researchers found that cherry-flavored e-cigarettes contained the highest quantities of benzaldehyde, up to 43 times higher than other flavored e-cigs. And the estimated dose of the chemical in e-cigs was about 30 puffs more than in traditional tobacco cigarettes. 

Experts from the American Vaping Association disputed these claims, suggesting that these findings don’t present evidence of a “major” health concern. "Our friends at the the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association point out that it would take three years of vaping to reach the maximum levels of benzaldehyde that a worker is allowed to be exposed to during an eight-hour shift," said Gregory Conley, the president of the association.

More research is needed to examine the potential long-term effects of flavored e-cigarettes, said Goniewicz. But the study, which is featured in the journal Thorax, suggests that although e-cigarettes may be a healthier alternative to traditional smoking, long-term exposure to flavored e-cigs could still cause health harm. And if you can’t live without flavored e-cigs, your best bet is to opt for any flavor other than cherry.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.