In a study * published this week in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine, British researchers have just shown that the electronic cigarette was less toxic than the conventional fuel cigarette, bringing a stone to the building of those who advocate the use of this device to accompany smokers to stop smoking.
Decreased levels of toxic and carcinogenic substances
Here, the researchers conducted a study not in the laboratory, but on real smokers. “This is the first time that we have a study conducted in real conditions, with real smokers,” says Pr Bertrand Dautzenberg, pulmonologist at Pitié-Salpêtrière and author of the book The pleasure of quitting smoking ( First ed). Scientists at the University College of London’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health have identified a “significant” decrease in the concentration of toxic and carcinogenic products in smokers who have been releasing tobacco for e-cigarettes for six months. their organism, relative to the concentrations found in smokers.
The researchers noted that the level of nitrosamines, carcinogens involved in lung cancer, is reduced by 97% in exclusive vapers compared to “combustible” cigarette smokers. “This confirms that the e-cigarette is much cleaner than the conventional cigarette in terms of toxic,” says Professor Ivan Berlin, university lecturer and hospital practitioner in the department of pharmacology at Pitié Salpêtrière. For his colleague Professor Dautzenberg, “it helps to sweep away these unfounded beliefs that the electronic cigarette would be harmful.”
To achieve these results, they searched for the presence of the main toxic substances of tobacco in students urine and saliva samples of the 181 smokers participating in the study. They were divided into five equal groups: conventional cigarette smokers, those who smoke while using nicotine substitutes (patches, chewing gums), those who combine conventional and electronic cigarettes, those who no longer smoke and use only nicotine substitutes and finally, exclusive vapers.
Accompanying smoking cessation
As part of their study, British researchers have also shown that the electronic cigarette delivers a level of nicotine equivalent to that of the conventional cigarette. They also noted that the rates of toxic and carcinogenic substances found among smokers combining tobacco and electronic cigarettes are similar to those found among exclusive smokers of tobacco.
“This shows that the dual use of electronic cigarettes and tobacco has no toxic interest,” says Professor Dautzenberg. But this combination can, however, have positive effects if it allows the smoker to be accompanied on the way to stopping smoking.
Public Health England reminds all the same that e-cigarettes are not without risks.
Sally Davies, head of government health, said: “There is still a lack of evidence on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes,” which she says should only be used to quit smoking. “I want these products to be inserted in the medical sector (…) to increase the safety, quality and efficacy of products for the purpose of smoking cessation,” she adds. (source)
But to date, while some tobacco and addictologists do not contraindicate the use of the electronic cigarette to their patients, they can not recommend it as well as nicotine substitutes. “In the absence of a study reporting evidence of the effectiveness of the electronic cigarette in stopping smoking, this device can not be considered as a medicine that health professionals prescribe therapeutically to their patients who wish to stop smoking, confirms Professor Ivan Berlin.
We also lack data on the effect of the electronic cigarette on the very long term on the cardiovascular health of smokers in particular, even if it is very likely that, in this field too, the risks of cigarettes are significantly lower than the conventional cigarette.
For her part, Jane Ellison, the English Minister of Health, reminds smokers that the best way to avoid smoking-related risks is to stop smoking altogether (or vaping). According to her, it is now also necessary to ban e-cigarettes for children under the age of 18 to protect children from the attraction of nicotine.