In the May issue of Scientific American, there is an article that speculates about the possible harmful effects of e-cigarettes, which, of course, have been touted as the healthy alternative to actual cigarettes.
If that surprises you, then consider this your reminder that everything – no matter what it is and especially if you enjoy doing it – is going to kill you.
The story does make some good points, though:
- No one really knows what propylene glycol – a chemical found in everything from soft drinks and salad dressings to shampoos, antiperspirants and look, antifreeze! – does to the human body when breathed into the lungs. We kind of know that it’s probably good for us when eaten – after all, it has the very reassuring official label of being “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, but when it’s in the air, all bets are off.
- In addition to the wonderful mystery that is vaporized propylene glycol, there are plenty of other by-products that can be created from heating the solution inside of an electronic cigarette. According to Scientific American, “various studies suggest the vapors from e-cigarettes contain several cancer-causing substances, as well as incredibly tiny particles of tin, chromium, nickel and other heavy metals, which, in large enough concentrations, can damage the lungs.”
That sounds like fun! Really though, I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about e-cigarettes. The way I see it, they still seem like a much better alternative to smoking and there is still so much research that needs to be done to really prove anything one way or the other. So I’m sure not going to start asking e-cigarette smokers to go outside in the meantime.
But the point here is that since e-cigarettes could be something you enjoy, it will no doubt kill you. No matter what it is, if it’s around long enough, it will be eventually vilified by health nuts, concerned parents and, if you’re really unlucky, motivated scientists.
And like anything else, big money is being thrown around on both sides to skew e-cigarettes as being either actually healthy or the most destructive thing you could put in your body. But it doesn’t matter; the damage has already been done. The notion that electronic cigarettes are harmful is out there, which means it has officially and forever been added to the list of things that will definitely, probably kill you.