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Studies show e-cigarettes reduce smoking related illnesses

The arguments used to promote the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other vaping products is with a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer, and as a strategy to decrease the addiction to conventional cigarettes. Other smoking related diseases include risk of lung disease, including lung cancer and emphysema. The research areas that support this have been provided by trade site Vapor Solo. In relation to the research, a review commissioned by Public Health England concluded that e-cigarettes were 95 percent less harmful than tobacco.

The first set of research is from the University of Dundee, U.K., drawing on an extensive clinical trial into the cardiovascular effect.

Cardiovascular health

The second area of research relates to a trial that found that patients (114 in total) who switched from smoking to vaping experience a 1.5 percentage point improvement with their blood vessel function, as demonstrated across a four week period. This improvement was as measured against conventional cigarette users. Heart health was assessed using a Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD) test, to assess how far a blood vessel opens.

Further studies from the research team are underway to measure the effects over a longer time period across which the broader effects of cardiovascular health can be assessed, including the risk of heart attacks. The results are supported by a second study from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, U.S. This research strand showed that heavy cigarette smokers with at least a 20 pack-year smoking history can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 39 percent within five years if they switch to e-cigarettes or quit altogether.

In a follow-up letter to The Lancet, the researchers “estimate that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to users than smoking. Or, as we prefer, smoking is estimated to be twenty times more harmful to users than vaping e-cigarettes.”

Cancer development

A similar investigation, this time into the risk of developing cancers, was conducted between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, U.S., and the University College London., U.K. This study was slightly larger, taking in 181 smokers in order to assess the long-term effects of vaping. The smoker group included users of electronic cigarettes and conventional tobacco products.

To determine the health variance, those involved in the study volunteered to provide saliva, breath, and urine samples. Qualitative questionnaires were also completed.

The data indicated that levels of carcinogens (including tobacco specific nitrosamines, which are one of the most important carcinogens in tobacco formed from nicotine) taken from former smokers who had switched to e-cigarettes were significantly lower compared with regular users of smoking tobacco products. People who used both types of products, so-termed ‘combination smokers’ did not experience any significant health improvements.

The third study was published in the peer-reviewed journal: Annals of Internal Medicine, titled “Nicotine, Carcinogen, and Toxin Exposure in Long-Term E-Cigarette and Nicotine Replacement Therapy Users: A Cross-sectional Study.”

On balance

The above cases do not mean the e-cigarettes are not without some risks, and this is, by way of balance, a subject that Digital Journal has reported on previously.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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