Are E-Cigarettes Healthier Than Real Cigarettes?

No Smoking

According to an article from Berkeley Wellness, e-cigarettes were developed in China by a pharmacist and became available to the public in 2004. Today, these electronic devices are sold over the internet, in shopping malls, and other various locations. Although they have not been approved or even evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, increased product sales speak for their growing popularity.

The question here is: are e-cigarettes actually safer than the cancer-causing, tobacco-filled traditional cigarettes? A small study in 2012 recruited 20 tobacco smokers to determine the e-cigarette’s ability to cause nicotine addiction. The results were that e-cigarettes appear to have a lower potential for abuse or addiction than actual cigarettes, that they can deliver “clinically significant amounts of nicotine,” and lastly, can temporarily relieve “cigarette abstinence symptoms.”

Another small study from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece, using a sample of 20 people, found that e-cigarettes did not have any short-term effects on cardiac function on the hearts of regular smokers. While these two studies seem somewhat hopeful for e-cigarette users, other studies have raised eyebrows.

Another Greek study from the University of Athens analyzed short-term effects of e-cigarettes on respiratory function in 32 participants, both non-smokers and smokers. Following 10 minutes of e-cigarette inhalation, all subjects were found to have experienced immediate resistance of the respiratory tract to airflow, whether or not they were a regular smoker.

Public health experts and medical authorities are concerned that instead of helping smokers quit smoking, e-cigarettes will become a new addictive habit with side effects that are just as unhealthy. While the strongest argument for the use of these electronic, nicotine-delivery devices is that they can help smokers quit, they may have the exact opposite effect, turning non-smokers into smokers.

Researchers from New Zealand are currently implementing a randomized clinical trial with 657 participants. The study is comparing e-cigarettes to nicotine patches in an attempt to find out which method of quitting smoking is the most effective.

If you’re attempting to quit smoking cigarettes, hold off on using e-cigarettes as a “healthier” alternative. Until there is more information and finalized data available, your best bet may be to use the definitively healthier nicotine gums, patches, or lozenges. If you are not a smoker, don’t start with e-cigarettes, as it is highly likely you will become addicted to nicotine; and you don’t want to discover 10 years from now that the side-effects have put your life at risk.

 

Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

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Image: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Nicolas Raymond

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