Scientists at University College London (UCL) have found that e-cigarettes are much safer than normal cigarettes. Compared to conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes produce far lower levels of toxins and carcinogens in the body.
The research was published in annals of internal medicine and was funded by Cancer Research UK.
The scientists looked at individuals who replaced normal cigarettes with e-cigarettes or incorporated Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) into their regime and had substantially reduced levels of toxicity and carcinogens compared to individuals who continued smoking cigarettes.
The scientists analyzed urine and saliva samples of long time smokers and compared exposure to certain carcinogens in e-cigarette and NRT users.
The analysis led to the conclusion that individuals who made a switch to NRT or e-cigarettes had massively decreased levels of carcinogens and toxic chemicals as compared to those who continued to smoke conventional tobacco cigarettes.
The study also found that users who continued to smoke tobacco cigarettes while using NRT or e-cigarettes did not produce the same level of decreased carcinogen reduction and reduced toxicity exposure.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Lion Shahab, said, “Our study adds to existing evidence showing that e-cigarettes and NRT are far safer than smoking, and suggests that there is a very low risk associated with their long-term use.”
He further added, “We’ve shown that the levels of toxic chemicals in the body from e-cigarettes are considerably lower than suggested in previous studies using simulated experiments. This means some doubts about the safety of e-cigarettes may be wrong.”
The findings highlight the fact that not only e-cigarettes were much safer than tobacco cigarettes; they also had much lower nicotine content, which meant users had a much lower risk of getting addicted, and thus could more efficaciously quit smoking altogether, according to Dr. Shahab.
According to Cancer Research UK Cancer Prevention Director Alison Cox, cancer causes an estimated one-third of all tobacco-related deaths, which makes prevention a high priority, while at the same time trying to fight addiction in 10 million UK smokers.
The study further suggests that compared to tobacco, e-cigarettes are much safer than normal cigarettes.
Therefore it is important to critically look at the need of informing users about the possibility of using e-cigarettes and NRT as a replacement to conventional cigarettes in order to minimize health damage.
Controversy Behind E-Cigarettes
E cigarettes have come under a lot of scrutiny and have not been free of controversy. Many health advocates have called for the ban on e-cigarettes or for stricter regulation regimes, since they seem to be actually causing cigarette addiction. This study however, sheds a positive light on the e-cigarette trend.
The World Health Organization (WHO) against the use of e-cigarettes and has called for strict regulations and proper check and balance on sales. According to the WHO’s investigation, of 105 studies conducted on e-cigarettes efficacy and safety, 30 of them had been paid for by the tobacco industry, which greatly questions their legitimacy.
Multinational tobacco companies market and advertise e-cigarettes among children and adolescents and this makes tobacco control exceedingly difficult, especially as e-cigarettes have been termed as “safe” and “nicotine free” by tobacco companies.
Moreover e-cigarettes are especially dangerous for young children and infants. Children who are exposed to e-cigarettes had almost 6 times higher chance of being admitted to a medical facility and had approximately 3 times higher chance of developing severe medical conditions.
This is in comparison to children who are exposed to smoke of nicotine cigarettes. The vapor from e-cigarettes causes problems like skin irritation, life-threatening risks with and without residual disability.
The Unites States has also seen an increase in e-cigarette use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, tobacco use among high school students is at its lowest in 25 years, but the use of e-cigarettes has increased significantly over the past few years.
Due to their high prevalence in youth and somewhat adverse health effects, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in USA has decided to regulate e-cigarettes. The authority imposed regulations in order to protect US citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes.
The FDA will now overlook all e-cigarettes manufactured and made in America and companies will have to get approval from the institution to sell their products.
Despite these negative aspects another UCL study found that increased prevalence of e-cigarette use in smokers increases the chances of successfully quitting smoking.
One thing is certain, future research will heavy rely on the long term safety and health consequences of prolonged e-cigarette use. Meta-analysis of several studies will hopefully give a conclusive answer to destroy the controversy surrounding e-cigarettes.