1 Research Centre for Prevention and Health, FCFS, The Capital Region of Denmark2 Department of Thoracic Medicine and Infectious Disease, Nordsjællands Hospital, The Capital Region of Denmark
OBJECTIVE: To provide a systematic review of the existing literature on health consequences of vaporing of electronic cigarettes (ECs). METHODS: Search in: PubMed, EMBASE and CINAHL. INCLUSION CRITERIA: Original publications describing a health-related topic, published before 14 August 2014. PRISMA recommendations were followed. We identified 1101 studies; 271 relevant after screening; 94 eligible. RESULTS: We included 76 studies investigating content of fluid/vapor of ECs, reports on adverse events and human and animal experimental studies. Serious methodological problems were identified. In 34% of the articles the authors had a conflict of interest. Studies found fine/ultrafine particles, harmful metals, carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, volatile organic compounds, carcinogenic carbonyls (some in high but most in low/trace concentrations), cytotoxicity and changed gene expression. Of special concern are compounds not found in conventional cigarettes, e.g. propylene glycol. Experimental studies found increased airway resistance after short-term exposure. Reports on short-term adverse events were often flawed by selection bias. CONCLUSIONS: Due to many methodological problems, severe conflicts of interest, the relatively few and often small studies, the inconsistencies and contradictions in results, and the lack of long-term follow-up no firm conclusions can be drawn on the safety of ECs. However, they can hardly be considered harmless.