According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, more than 15 out of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older smoked cigarettes. If you do the math, it means that 37.8 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. There used to be one option when it came to cigarettes; you either smoke or you don’t. But in 2004, the world was introduced to the e-cigarette. The e-cigarette has been heavily debated about its health benefits and potential harm to the body. But the real question is “is it safer than smoking?” According to a new study funded by Cancer Research UK, vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes.
The basis of the study was to assess the potential risks of long-term use of e-cigarettes as well as compare it to smoking. Their objective was to compare the exposure of nicotine, tobacco-related carcinogens, and toxins among smokers of cigarettes, and former smokers with long-term e-cigarette use only. So researchers recruited the following groups of participants: former smokers with long-term e-cigarette use, cigarette-only users, long-term users of e-cigarette and regular cigarettes.
To determine their results, researchers assessed the sociodemographic and smoking characteristics of each participant. Participants would provide urine and saliva samples and were analyzed for biomarkers of tobacco, nicotine and other volatile organic compounds. Results showed that the e-cigarette only and NRT- only users showed the lowest levels of carcinogens compared to the cigarette-only smokers and smokers of both cigarettes and the e-cigarette. Researchers also found that after analyzing the urine and saliva samples of 181 participants, the levels of NNAL, which is a chemical linked to cancer, was 97.5% lower in ex-smokers who switched to vaping compared to those who continued to smoke.
One of the scientists on the project, Lion Shahab, says that the take-home message for anyone reading this study is that using e-cigarettes long-term will likely carry substantial health benefits in relation to cancer risk, compared to those who smoke. He adds that e-cigarettes are certainly safer than smoking combustible cigarettes.
Health Risks of E-cigarettes. Just because something is a healthier alternative to something unhealthy, doesn’t mean that it is good for you long-term. Yes, the previous study does prove that e-cigarettes are a better opinion health-wise than cigarettes. But there are also health risks that come with them as well. One study conducted at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University found that e-cigarettes have the potential to release high amounts of toxic metals in their vapors. To come to the conclusion of their findings, scientists examined 56 e-cigarette users and found that a number of e-cigarettes released vapors with unsafe levels of chromium, manganese, lead, and nickel. Although this is a small sample study, it does provide information for e-cigarette users to consider.
Another study that was conducted by UNC School of Medicine and published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that e-cigarettes not only trigger the same immune response that combustible cigarettes do; but they also spur a unique immune response as well. Dr. Pushan Jani, a pulmonologist at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and UTHealth, states that when the lungs sense that something is not right, the immune system rushes to attack. Dr. Cedric Rutland, a pulmonary and critical care physician and assistant clinical professor at the University of California at Riverside School of Medicine, adds that vaping can lead to inflammation in the lungs, even if you were smoking pure water vapor.
The bottom line here is that yes, e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean that you should quit smoking and take up vaping. Both have their health risks like many things in this world, but the easiest solution to this is to quit smoking without switching to an e-cigarette. There are many home remedies that can assist you with this along with other therapies. Consult your doctor for more information about quitting smoking.