E-cigarettes: Do They Help? Are They Safe?

September 18, 2016



Some encouraging news for people who want to quit smoking. There is some hope according to a new Cochrane Review. (Hartmann-Boyce J, et al. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation [published online September 14, 2016]. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010216.pub3.)


Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes, are a relatively new phenomenon, becoming increasingly popular over the last several years.


Many smokers use electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. However, the efficacy and safety of electronic cigarette use in achieving long-term smoking abstinence is unknown.

The researchers searched online databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which smokers who were motivated or unmotivated to quit were randomly assigned to an electronic cigarette or a control condition from January 2004 to January 2016. 

Results showed that individuals who used an electronic cigarette to quit smoking were more likely to abstain from smoking for at least 6 months than those using placebo.


Are they safe? Not accordingly to the American Lung Association and now being regulated by FDA.

The studies show that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and also may add in other harmful chemicals, including carcinogens and lung irritants.


Nicotine is an addictive substance, and almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Even some products that claim not to have any nicotine in them may still contain it, hopefully in a smaller amount than cigarettes and that should theoretically help to wean off the real cigarettes by gradual decrease in the inhaled amount.


Other chemicals that are released with heating are formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents, known carcinogen. In fact, the recent article compares the risk of developing cancer from this e-cigarette toxin to the risk of cancer from smoking traditional cigarettes, and states that that the risk with e-cigarettes may be up to 15 times higher.


Flavored e-cigarettes also contain diacetyl, that is a well-known harmful chemical, which among other things, causes a lung disease called 'popcorn lung'.


So if you decided to quit smoking, that is the smartest idea you could've had, go for it. But if you want to try "safer " e-cigarettes, don't full yourself, stop it as soon as you lose the urge to smoke, and hopefully within 6 months.


For a safer alternative contact Dr. Koganski's office 215-750-7000, www.newtowninternalmedicine.com


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