Targeted Oncology
Targeted Oncology
Targeted Oncology


Study Finds Link Between E-Cigarette Use and Bladder Cancer

Allie Casey
Published Online:11:57 AM, Tue June 13, 2017

Tatum Tarin, MD

Findings from a recent pilot study done at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center showed a potential link between e-cigarette use and bladder cancer.
“We’ve known traditional smoking raises bladder cancer risk, and given the surge in popularity of e-cigarettes, it’s imperative we uncover any potential links to e-cigarette smoke and bladder cancer,” said Sam S. Chang, MD, MBA, who moderated the press session during which the study was presented at the American Urological Association’s Annual Meeting.
While e-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, the composition of the liquids in these devices are complex and unregulated. There is a wide variety of formulas and some may contain known bladder carcinogens such as nitrosamines, formaldehyde, acrolein, metals and acetaldehyde.
The study reported that the urine samples of e-cigarette users contained some of those known carcinogens.
“One of the biggest impetuses for this study is that we know that e-cigarettes and vaping is a useful tool for people to stop smoking, sort of a safe alternative," said senior researcher on the study, Tatum Tarin, MD, in an interview with Targeted Oncology.
"There's been a 900% increase in e-cigarettes and vaping in kids, that wouldn't be smoking otherwise. What we were trying to show is that in kids who are non-smokers, this is not exactly a safe thing, or at least we don't know the full safety profile of electronic cigarettes and vaping."
Researchers collected urine samples from thirteen e-cigarette users and ten non-smoking, non e-cigarette using controls. Using liquid chromactography-mass spectrometry, they tested the samples for five molecules that are known to be bladder carcinogens and are either present in traditional cigarettes or common solvents believed to be used in some e-cigarette formulations. Those molecules are: benzanthracene, benzopyrene, 1-hydroxypyrene, o-toluidine, 2-napthylamine. The patients self-reported abstinence from traditional cigarettes for at least 6 months prior to the specimen collection.
Twelve of the thirteen samples from e-cigarette users tested positive for two of the carcinogenic compounds: o-toluidine, and 2-napthylamine. All samples from the ten control patients tested negative for the 5 molecules. The other three carcinogens were not identified in any samples.
Tarin explained that the two molecules identified have “been studied for a very long time, mostly in environmental exposures. They’re known to be in people who smoked tobacco and used conventional cigarettes. O-toluidine, and 2-napthylamine are known to be bladder cancer-causing agents.”