E-cigarettes: are they healthier than normal cigarettes?

05.07.2016 10:10

With the recent increase of people using electronic cigarettes to help them give up smoking or under the assumption to change to a healthier alternative, it bears the question of whether they are actually really healthier than cigarettes. As they are a relatively new product there is not much evidence that suggests that they have as many negative side effects as cigarettes, however, it can be safely assumed that they are not 100% safe.

A recent discovery by the University of North Carolina Health Care states that the use of e-cigarettes can alter genes involved in airway immune defense. The changes are likely to increase the risk of bacterial infections, viruses and inflammations among other things. The discovery cannot yet be linked to long-term health effects of e-cigarette use or the risk of diseases usually associated with long-term cigarette smoking such as cancer, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, so far the evidence suggests that long-term e-cigarette use will not be harmless.

According to another study by Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System there is very little difference between the effects of smoking cigarettes and smoking e-cigarettes. In both cases cells are damaged beyond repair. As e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, as cigarettes do, they appear as if they are a safer, less toxic alternative. They can, however, still be damaging. There are other chemicals, such as formaldehyde that can be just as or more harmful. As the report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) proposes, what is essentially needed is a prohibition on unproven health claims about e-cigarettes and a restriction on e-cigarette advertising. It suggests that until further research is conducted in the field, smokers are encouraged to give up smoking using approved methods rather than substitution by e-cigarettes.

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