Electronic cigarettes flavored with mint and menthol might contain high levels of a potentially cancer-causing chemical that is banned from food within the U.S., based on a new study.
The conclusion comes just days after President Donald Trump’s administration suggested banning flavored e-cigarettes following a chain of mysterious vaping-related illnesses across the country.
Mint plant oil produce Pulegone similar to peppermint and spearmint that was previously added to candies and chewing gum to provide flavor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned Pulegone which is synthetically made as a food additive due to carcinogenic results found in animal studies in last year.
However, there’s a “discrepancy in the regulation of the chemical substances in food versus e-cigarettes,” stated study co-author Sven Jordt, an associate professor in anesthesiology, pharmacology, and pathobiology at Duke University’s School of Medicine. For e-cigarettes, the FDA’s “level of regulation is fairly minimal.”
Indeed, several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research previously discovered high levels of Pulegone in mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. “The truth that it is allowed in e-cigarettes could be very concerning,” Jordt instructed Live Science.
To do that, the researchers used information obtained from the FDA about what levels of pulegone exposure had been low enough to avoid causing tumors in animal research. (Related research in people do not exist.) The researchers also examined data obtained from the CDC on the number of pulegone people had been exposed to on average when using numerous products.
The FDA deems a product safe for consumption if its margin of exposure (which is expressed as a ratio) is 10,000 or above. In other words, they are saying a food additive is safe when its focus in food is 10,000 times decrease than what would cause cancer in animals similar to rats.
The researchers calculated the margin of exposure for five different brands of menthol- and mint-flavored e-cigarettes and one brand of smokeless tobacco. They then compared the levels to that of menthol cigarettes.
Within the results, the margin of exposure for people smoking or consuming smokeless tobacco that contains Pulegone ranged from 325 (within the heavy users) to 6,012 (in the light users) a lot higher than the safety margin. What’s more, people who smoked flavored e-cigarettes or consumed smokeless tobacco have been exposed to a lot more senior levels of Pulegone than those who smoked menthol cigarettes, which have reduced mainly levels of Pulegone in comparison with what they contained in the 1970s, Jordt stated.