Any lingering doubts whether the use of electronic cigarettes is safe can finally be put to rest — or at least for now until a new and stronger evidence comes up and says otherwise.
E-Cigarettes vs. Tobacco
Electronic cigarette or e-cigarette may be a safer and less toxic alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. This is what a new study funded by the Cancer Research UK suggests.
Confirming the results of previous scientific works on the safety of e-cigarettes, experts detected significantly lower levels of toxins and carcinogens in saliva and urine samples of long-term e-cigarette users or nicotine replacement therapy versus continuous smokers of traditional tobacco cigarettes.
"Our results also suggest that while e-cigarettes are not only safer, the amount of nicotine they provide is not noticeably different to conventional cigarettes. This can help people to stop smoking altogether by dealing with their cravings in a safer way," said Lion Shahab of the University College London, the lead author of the study.
Although both contain the psychoactive ingredient nicotine, most e-cigarettes can heat their content without combustion. Instead of smoke, you're inhaling steam or vapor, thus the popular term "vaping." Traditional tobacco cigarettes, on the contrary, are packed with loads of cancer-causing agents, which, when heated, are not only sent to the lungs directly but also create second-hand smoke as well.
The entire study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Total Switch From Tobacco To E-Cigarettes Necessary
Stressing that the benefits only become available if tobacco is given up completely, the study also noted that people who used e-cigarettes or NRT only to cut back on their tobacco consumption did not exhibit the same reduced levels of harmful toxins in the body.
"Using an e-cigarette to help you smoke less cigarettes per day is not going to help," Dr. Peter Shields, deputy director of Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, who's not a part of the study, explained.
Tobacco: The World's Biggest Preventable Killer
Data from the World Health Organization shows that tobacco is the world's biggest preventable killer, claiming the lives of about 6 million people every year.
While over 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco smoking, more than 600,000 are a tragic consequence of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unfortunately, in 2004, at least 28 percent of deaths related to second-hand smoking involved children.
Countless studies have linked tobacco smoking to an increased risk of developing a whole gamut of serious health conditions — including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease.
"The best thing a smoker can do, for themselves and those around them, is to quit now, completely and forever," Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England advised.