Switching to e-cigarettes

Switching to e-cigarettes reduces the amount of cancer-causing tobacco toxins by 97% in just 6 months, major new study finds

  • Researchers assessed people who switched from tobacco to ‘vaping’ gadgets
  • They found it allowed for almost all toxins to leave their body within 6 months
  • While continuing to smoke alongside vaping saw chemicals drop by just 20%
  • It comes almost straight after another study confirmed e-cigarettes are safer

Electronic cigarettes are far safer and less toxic than smoking tobacco, a major new British study has found.

Scientists warned that nearly two thirds of smokers wrongly believe e-cigarettes are as dangerous as smoking.

And they blamed US campaigners for exaggerating the harms as part of a ‘moral crusade’ against the nicotine devices.

Researchers at University College London found people who switched from tobacco to ‘vaping’ gadgets saw the levels of cancer-causing toxins in their body drop by up to 97.5 per cent in six months.

Their study comes after another British experiment found that the devices cause just two genetic mutations in the lung – compared to 123 from tobacco.

A major new study found that e-cigarettes are far safer and less toxic than smoking tobacco

A major new study found that e-cigarettes are far safer and less toxic than smoking tobacco

The new study, funded by Cancer Research UK, found people who continued to smoke as well as vape only saw toxic chemicals drop by 20 per cent, suggesting a complete switch is needed to reduce exposure.

Study leader Dr Lion Shahab, of UCL, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

E-cigarettes contain a liquid form of nicotine that is heated into vapour to be inhaled, avoiding the harm caused by tobacco smoke.

Around 2.6 million adults in Britain have used e-cigarettes in the decade or so that they have been on the market.

Health experts agree that the devices are much safer than smoking tobacco – and the gadgets are thought to have helped 22,000 people quit smoking each year.

But many are concerned about unresolved safety concerns, and are especially worried about plans to allow the devices to be prescribed on the NHS.

Researchers found people who switched from tobacco to 'vaping' gadgets saw the levels of cancer-causing toxins in their body drop by up to 97.5 per cent in six months

Researchers found people who switched from tobacco to ‘vaping’ gadgets saw the levels of cancer-causing toxins in their body drop by up to 97.5 per cent in six months

Those fears have been flamed by a series of studies, mainly from the US, which warn of the potential damage of vaping on the heart and lungs.

But the UCL team, whose work is published in the respected Annals of Internal Medicine, said the papers which sparked these fears had been mostly based on small studies, on work on mice, or had compared e-cig users against people who had never smoked.

E-CIGARETTES MUTATE LESS GENES TOO…

E-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco products, a study appeared to confirm yesterday.

While vaporizers are touted as ‘safe’, health experts warned we still don’t have enough evidence to say that for certain.

But a set of experiments performed in the UK showed lung tissue is barely affected at all by e-cigarettes – compared to the crippling affect cigarette smoke has one our organs.

Lungs exposed to tobacco suffered changes in 123 genes – mutating cells in a way that creates fertile ground for heart disease, inflammation, and even tumor growth.

Meanwhile just two genes were affected in lungs exposed to e-cigarette vapor.

The vast majority of e-cigarette users have previously been cigarette smokers, they said – and even if there are some small risks, they are significantly outweighed by the benefit of stopping smoking.

Dr Shahab: ‘Nothing is entirely safe. There is likely to be a residual risk of using e-cigarettes, certainly for cardiovascular diseases.

‘But looking at the long-term effects of nicotine replacement therapy these effects tend to be very small, and dramatically reduced compared to continuing with smoking.’

His team conducted the first ever study analysing the saliva and urine of long-term e-cigarette users, measuring their exposure to key chemicals.

They did the same tests on smokers and users of nicotine gum and patches.

Tracking 181 people for six months, they found e-cigarettes users had 97.5 per cent lower levels of a chemical called NNK than smokers, 97.1 per cent lower level of acrylonitrile and 89 per cent lower levels of butadiene.

Nicotine gum and patch users had similar reductions for each chemical, but the levels were not quite as low as for vapers.

Professor Robert West of UCL, senior author of the study, said it was ‘frustrating’ that research which highlighted the danger of e-cigarettes are given so much publicity.

The new study found people who continued to smoke as well as vape only saw toxic chemicals drop by 20 per cent

The new study found people who continued to smoke as well as vape only saw toxic chemicals drop by 20 per cent

And he said part of the reason is that campaigners who in the past fought against the tobacco industry were now also campaigning against e-cigarette firms, many of which are owned by big tobacco firms.

Professor West said: ‘In the US, there is a section of the public health community for whom it is more of a moral crusade.

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
Dr Lion Shahab, from University College London

‘That moral crusade is tied up with fighting the tobacco industry – the side effect of that fight has spilled over into a more general ethical view about anything which isn’t the pure way of stopping smoking, which is just do it yourself and pull your socks up and be a hero.

‘There is a general sense that addiction is a bad thing, that nicotine addiction is a bad thing, that anything remotely connected with the tobacco industry is horrendous.’

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said: ‘Around a third of tobacco-caused deaths are due to cancer, so we want to see many more of the UK’s 10million 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.’

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