Smokers who switch to e-cigarettes greatly reduce their exposure to carcinogens and other toxic inhaled substances, according to a British study released Monday.
The study of 181 smokers and former smokers was the first to directly measure and compare levels of these substances in people, its authors said. The harm reduction depends on a total substitution of e-cigarettes for smoking, the study stated.
Previous studies have been performed on cell cultures or animals, or measured substance levels in e-cigarette vapor. While these proxy measurements are useful, direct measurements in people provide superior knowledge of the risks incurred.
Researchers analyzed the saliva and urine of long-term smokers, as well as that of vapors and users of nicotine replacement therapies (nicotine patches). They measured levels of TSNAs (tobacco-specific nitrosamines) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), established risk factors for smoking-related diseases.
The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It can be found at j.mp/ecigrisk.
American public health organizations have generally opposed vaping, even as an aid to quitting smoking.
They say evidence is lacking that e-cigarettes are effective, and endorse alternative methods of quitting, such as nicotine patches or gum. And they say non-smokers may take up vaping under the mistaken belief that it’s harmless.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is imposing strict new rules on e-cigarettes, classifying them as tobacco products. The e-cigarette liquids vaporized contain no tobacco. The e-cigarette industry says these rules would add so much expense that smaller makers would fold, leaving the market to the big vendors, who happen to be tobacco companies.
But British public health agencies have generally endorsed e-cigarettes as being far less risky than conventional cigarettes, and useful for smokers trying to quit. They embrace an approach called harm reduction that endorses lessening risk. Since there is widespread agreement that vaping poses less of a risk than smoking, they say smokers should be encouraged to try vaping.
The real danger of cigarettes lies in the other substances carried in smoke, include those produced by combustion. The threats include lung diseases, including cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The study paid particular attention to the risk for cancer.
The level of dangerous chemicals found in solo e-cigarette users was found to be a fraction of that in solo smokers of regular cigarettes, expressed in percentages.
-- 2.5 percent the level of TSNAs (tobacco-specific nitrosamines)
-- 33.3 percent for acrolein
-- 42.9 percent for acrylamide
-- 2.9 percent for acrylonitrile
-- 11.0 percent for 1,3-butadiene
-- 43.5 percent of ethylene oxide, acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride.
But e-cigarette users were found to have 126.9 percent of nicotine or equivalent of smokers.
These numbers were reported at a 95 percent confidence level.
Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control specialist at Boston University who supports vaping for smoking cessation, was enthusiastic about the findings.
“This study adds to the abundant evidence that e-cigarettes are much safer than real tobacco cigarettes,” Siegel said by email. “In fact, for the four carcinogens and two toxins tested, levels in e-cigarette users were comparable to those in nicotine patch users and much lower than in cigarette smokers. The study also showed that dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes did not significantly reduce exposure to these 6 chemicals.”
Siegel said the study “suggests that benefits in terms of cardiovascular disease and cancer will only occur if a smoker switches to vaping completely.”
“The bottom line of this study is that there is now no scientific uncertainty: vaping is much safer than smoking,” Siegel said.
The study also breaks new ground by measuring levels of dangerous chemicals directly from people, Siegel said.
So there we have it folks another round of ammunition to throw at the haters. Live long and Vape hard