RSVP Magazine

New research might just be the incentive you need to give up smokes this lent

E-cigarettes are reportedly far less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with smokers being recommended to make the switch, according to recent research.

A recent study published by the University College London shows that e-cigarette users show a significant reduction in cancer causing toxins, as opposed to traditional smokers, or those who combined traditional cigarettes with e-cigarettes or NRT (nicotine replacement treatment).

This study conflicts with other research done which says that while e-cigarettes are a little safer than traditional cigarettes, they are still extremely harmful.

The topic of e-cigarettes, and how safe an alternative they are to traditional cigarettes, is a highly debated topic. One just has to search Google to see the stream of ‘e-cigarettes v’s traditional cigarettes’ related arguments. So with so much debate, how can people know what to trust?

While health professionals can generally be deemed to be trusted to know their stuff, even they seem to be conflicted. While some research is showing they are much safer, other research indicates that we shouldn’t be so quick to use them as a cessation device for traditional smoking.

The recent research, done by Dr. Lion Shahab and fellow researchers at University College London, was funded by Cancer Research UK. The study showed that people who swapped smoking traditional cigarettes for e-cigarettes or NRT, for at least six months, had significantly lower levels of toxic and cancer causing substances in their body compared to people who continued to smoke cigarettes full time.

The study tested urine and saliva samples of the 181 participants in the study. The first time this has been done. The groups tested were smokers, e-cigarette users only, and people who used e-cigarettes and NRT whilst continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes.

Infographic by Michelle Bourke

The study found that the smokers who also used NRT or e-cigarettes showed very little difference in results to those who just smoked, while those who used NRT only or e-cigarettes only showed a significant reduction in cancer causing toxins.

Compared with full-time smokers, e-cigarette-only users had 97 per cent lower levels of a toxic chemical, NNAL, that is strongly associated with lung cancer. The findings also showed that in order to see an improvement, smokers must switch entirely to NRT or e-cigarettes, as just reducing smoking and introducing NRT and e-cigarettes has little effect.

However other studies have shown that e-cigarettes are harmful. A study published by the JAMA cardiology network, suggests that while e-cigarettes may be better for people’s lungs, they may have significant health implications for their hearts.

The paper, by Aruni Bhatnagar, says that “nicotine present in most e-cigarettes is a strong vasoactive drug that can profoundly affect cardiovascular function and health.” According to the paper, e-cigarettes are known to increase people’s heart rates, as well as increasing their blood pressure.

via Twitter/ @StopSmokingLeic

A study by Mohamad et al, ‘Emissions from Electronic Cigarettes: Key Parameters Affecting the Release of Harmful Chemicals’, which was funded by University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), says;

“E-cigarettes may serve as a gateway to tobacco addiction for a new generation of users, and contribute to the re-legitimization and glamorization of tobacco-containing products.”

The fear that while e-cigarettes may be better, though still not great for your health, they may also lead people on to eventually becoming a full-time smoker.

According to the study, chemicals emitted from the e-cigarettes included very harmful chemicals.

“These chemical emissions are associated with both cancer and noncancer health impacts,” it said.

Previously the Irish Cancer Society said that they would not promote e-cigarettes as a cessation device for smokers, as although some research indicated they were much better, they said they did not have enough evidence of research done to be sure.

Speaking to RSVP magazine, The Irish Cancer Society said, “The Irish Cancer Society has said for some time that the use of e-cigarettes present both potential benefits and risks.”

“This research however does not address the safety of NOT smoking in comparison to e-cigarette use, therefore it is not saying that e-cigarettes are safe to use,” they added.

They said that in order to truly see the effects of e-cigarettes the study would have to have included the difference between non-smokers.

e cigarette v cigarette

Speaking to RSVP the Department of Health in Ireland said,

“Vaping is a relatively new occurrence.  Whilst there is considerable debate about their potential harms and benefits, there is widespread acceptance across the public health domain that e-cigarettes are considerably less harmful to an individual’s health than cigarettes, which kill one in every two users.”

Adding, “in this context, the Department welcomes the study funded by Cancer Research UK.”

The research shows the benefits of switching from smoking traditional cigarettes to vaping. This might be the incentive that some smokers need to quit!

Why not try switching to vaping for lent? Or giving up entirely?


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