Cancer patients could be more nicotine dependent with e-cigarettes

e-cigarettesA new study into e-cigarettes has put further fuel onto the fire about just how useful a tool they are in helping smokers successfully quit smoking, after researchers found cancer patients who used c-cigs to try and stop smoking actually ended up more addicted to nicotine.

The findings have been published online by the journal Cancer, and will undoubtedly spark further doubts regarding the devices  that have come under scrutiny from the World Health Organisation in recent years, who want tighter regulations on them and a banning of them being used indoors.

The new study was conducted by researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City, who assessed 1,074 cancer patients who were smokers and that had signed up to stop smoking schemes at cancer centre’s between 2012 and 2013.

The researchers discovered a three-fold rise in e-cigarette use from 2012 to 2013 – increasing from 10.6% to 38.5%.

When the patients’ enrolled into the smoking programme, the researchers determined that those also using e-cigarettes were more dependent on nicotine compared to those not using them, had tried to quit smoking on more occasions, and had a higher risk of developing cancer of the lungs, head, or neck.

During a follow-up assessment, it was found that seven-day abstinence rates were comparable with both e-cigarette users and non-users. Researchers found rates of 44.4% for e-cigarette users and 43.1% for non-users. By the time the study came to a conclusion, those using e-cigarettes were just as likely as non-users to be smoking regular cigarettes.

Dr Jamie Ostroff, lead researcher said: “Consistent with recent observations of increased e-cigarette use in the general population, our findings illustrate that e-cigarette use among tobacco-dependent cancer patients has increased within the past two years.”

She admitted further studies would be needed due to limitations with this one, saying: “Controlled research is needed to evaluate the potential harms and benefits of e-cigarettes as a potential cessation approach for cancer patients. In the meantime, oncologists should advise all smokers to quit smoking traditional combustible cigarettes, encourage use of FDA-approved cessation medications, refer patients for smoking cessation counselling, and provide education about the potential risks and lack of known benefits of long-term e-cigarette use.”

One such smoking cessation treatment is Pfizer’s highly popular Champix, of which Medical Specialists® Pharmacy have been inundated with requests for recently in the run up to Stoptober on 1 October.

Stoptober is an annual campaign run by Public Health England, which challenges all smokers to abstain for 28 days. The idea for 28 days of no smoking is that it is believed smokers are 5 times more likely to stop smoking if they can last the duration of the challenge. Keep checking the Medical Specialists® website for more information about Stoptober in the run up to it, including more to get involved and support available for smokers looking to quit.

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