Monday, 10 February 2014

Lots of demonizing misinformation in Norwegian online science magazine

This article was published on the 10th of February on It's apparently written by a journalist in the Danish online science magazine and translated, but I can't find the original article. It seems to be part of an article series called "Ask a researcher", and it's an answer to a reader that sent them an email asking these questions: Is there something in e-cigarettes that is bad for your health? And if so, how dangerous are they compared to regular cigarettes?

Actually what is a bit amazing here is that some of the sources they give us is proof that some of the claims in the article is just not true. I'm not going to go into the whole article, but I just feel I have to comment on a couple of the claims made by a couple of the doctors interviewed there.

Cheif consultant in the Danish health and medicine Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen), Jørgen Falk talks about the ingredients in e-liquid. He says that PG and glycerin are the main ingredients and these are substances that are related to what is used as antifreeze in cars (!). Well, he's right though. Both has been used as NON-TOXIC antifreeze:, but are not very effective, and not really what it's mainly used for. He does actually mention that it's used in food as well, but dragging this antifreeze purposes into the discussion... that's is just scaremongering as it makes people think it's toxic like methanol. Although he admits that e-cigarettes damages the lungs a lot less than normal cigarettes, he continues claiming that there is not enough research on the long term effect. Again, he want's to close the fire-escape cause the stairs might be a bit slippery, and he has apparently not read the research that is available. 

Then there is this Chief doctor, Charlotta Pisinger, claiming we don't know the long term effect of inhaling PG, which she says is usually about 90% of the e-liquid. How a Chief doctor can say this, and claim there is not enough long-term research is beyond me. The research on inhaling PG started in the 1940s! I mean it is a substance used to clean the air in hospitals, it's actually approved by the FDA for that very purpose. So this is just not the case... we know exactly how inhaling PG works. I'm sorry Charlotta but this statement to me makes me question all the other statements you make as well. Please read this:

The last chief doctor, Philip Tønnesen, who is actually a researcher himself (the others are just collecting other peoples research, and are not doing a very good job as you can see), is not that sceptical. He is convinced e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than cigarettes. He encourages the use of common sense and urges us to look at what e-cigarettes actually contain instead of waiting for long-term research on e-cigarettes in general. So far so good, but then even he manages to make an outrageous claim: "The research that is available to today does not indicate that e-cigarettes are especially effective as smoking-cessation remedies". Ok? One of the sources given in the article is this: Lets look what they write in the conclusion of this 24-month prospective observational study: "In conclusion, persistent long-term modifications in the smoking habit of smokers not intending to quit can be attained by using e-Cigarettes. This behaviour could be sustained over a prolonged period of time by advancing to newer more efficient models, which were well tolerated by users. Although not formally regulated, the e-Cigarette can help smokers unable or unwilling to quit to remain abstinent or reduce their cigarette consumption and currently may represent the ultimate tobacco cigarettes substitute.". Maybe the journalist that wrote this article should have shown that to Dr. Tønnesen, just as an example?


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