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E-Cigarettes May Cause Cancer, Study

Update Date: Dec 07, 2015 06:26 PM EST

Have you always looked at e-cigarettes as less harmful than real ones?

Well, you are wrong. A recent study by Penn State University researchers showed that e-cigarettes produce very reactive free radicals, molecules that are linked with cancer as well as cell damage.

E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco. They deliver nicotine in the form of water vapor, which is seen as a safe alternative to the harmful byproducts of burning tobacco. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that more than 20 percent of young adults have definitely experimented with e-cigarettes, while most of the current smokers are using them.

Yet, there is not much probe into the long-term ill-effects of e-cigs.

"There's a perception that e-cigarettes are healthier than regular cigarettes, or at least not as harmful as regular cigarettes," said John P. Richie Jr., who oversaw the study, according to a press release. "While e-cigarette vapor does not contain many of the toxic substances that are known to be present in cigarette smoke, it's still important for us to figure out and to minimize the potential dangers that are associated with e-cigarettes."

Earlier, it was found that they have low levels of aldehydes, or chemical compounds that lead to cell damage, but this study looks at free radicals, chemicals created when the heating coils in the e-cigarettes raise the high temperatures of the nicotine solutions.

"The levels of radicals that we're seeing are more than what you might get from a heavily air-polluted area, but less than what you might find in cigarette smoke," said Richie.

However, more research needs to be done.

"This is the first step," said Richie. "The identification of these radicals in the aerosols means that we can't just say e-cigarettes are safe because they don't contain tobacco. They are potentially harmful. Now we have to find out what the harmful effects are."

E-Cigarette vaporizers are displayed at Digital Ciggz on January 28, 2015 in San Rafael, California.

The California Department of Public Health released a report today that calls E-Cigarettes a health threat and suggests that they should be regulated like regular cigarettes and tobacco products.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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