Vaping has been given an emphatic thumbs-up by UK health experts after what was described as the first long-term study of its effects on ex-smokers.
According to an Associated Press story published by the Daily Mail, after six months, people who switched from traditional tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes – or to nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as nicotine patches – had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than those who continued to smoke.
The new findings showed also that to achieve such benefits smokers had to switch over completely to electronic cigarettes or NRT. Study participants who failed to make a clean break were found to have significant amounts of tobacco-related toxins in their saliva and urine.
Lead author, Dr. Lion Shahab, of University College London, said the results of the study had added to existing evidence showing that the use of electronic cigarettes and NRT products was far safer than was smoking. It suggested that there was a very low risk associated with the long-term use of these devices.
“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,” Shahab said. “This means some doubts about the safety of e-cigarettes may be wrong.”
He went on to say that while electronic cigarettes were not only safer than traditional cigarettes were, the amount of nicotine they provided was not noticeably different to the amount of nicotine delivered by conventional cigarettes. “This can help people to stop smoking altogether by dealing with their cravings in a safer way,” he added.
The Cancer Research UK-funded scientists studied a total of 181 individuals including smokers and ex-smokers who had used electronic cigarettes or NRT products for at least six months.
Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, was quoted as saying that about a third of tobacco-caused deaths were due to cancer, “so we want to see many more of the UK’s 10 million smokers break their addiction”.
“This study adds to growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco, and suggests the long term effects of these products will be minimal,” she said.
“Understanding and communicating the benefits of nicotine replacements, such as e-cigarettes, is an important step towards reducing the number of tobacco-related deaths here in the UK.”