E-cigarette users who stopped smoking cigarettes substantially reduced their intake of tobacco-related carcinogens and toxins.
Smokers who manage to cut out smoking altogether may see a health benefit from switching to e-cigarettes. A long-term study found that former smokers who completely replaced standard cigarettes with e-cigarettes substantially reduced their intake of cancer-causing chemicals compared to those who continued to smoke cigarettes. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
E-cigarettes have increased in popularity but concerns about potential exposure to carcinogens and toxins persist. Some reports claim to show that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking but the study authors say those reports are based on studies that bear little relationship to exposure of e-cigarette users in the real world. In the first study of its kind, researchers measured the intake of potentially harmful chemicals in e-cigarette users and compared them to people using licensed nicotine patches and cigarettes. The study found that when smokers switched completely to e-cigarettes, their intake of cancer-causing chemicals dramatically fell to a level found in people using nicotine patches while their intake of nicotine remains largely unchanged. Using e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement patches while continuing to smoke cigarettes does not seem to offer the same benefit.
According to the authors, these results confirm that e-cigarettes, like other nicotine replacements, are much safer than conventional cigarettes and may be a useful long-term quitting aid for patients who smoke and have struggled to stop with other available support. The authors caution that users must stop smoking completely to achieve health benefits.