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E-cigarettes Do Not Help Cancer Patients Quit Smoking

Update Date: Sep 22, 2014 09:30 AM EDT

Several studies have found evidence for and against the use of e-cigarette as a smoking cessation aid. According to a new study conducted in cancer patients, researchers reported that using e-cigarettes did not increased their likelihood of quitting traditional cigarettes in comparison to patients who did not use them.

For this study, the team headed by Jamie Ostroff, PhD, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, analyzed 1,074 cancer patients who were smokers. These participants were a part of the cancer center's tobacco treatment program, which took place between 2012 and 2013. All cancer patients, in general, are encouraged to quit smoking.

At the beginning of the program, the researchers noted that patients who used e-cigarettes were more likely to be dependent on nicotine when compared to patients who did not use the vaping devices. E-cigarette users were also more likely to have tried to quit smoking before and more likely to be diagnosed with lung or head and neck cancers. Throughout the study's time period, the number of patients who used e-cigarettes increased three times from 10.6 percent of 38.5 percent.

"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," said Dr. Ostroff according to the press release.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that e-cigarette users were just as likely to use traditional cigarettes in comparison to non-users. E-cigarette use did not deter the patients away from smoking traditional cigarettes. The one-week abstinence rates for traditional cigarettes were 44.4 percent for e-cigarette uses and 43.1 percent.

Dr. Ostroff added, "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 counseling, and provide education about the potential risks and lack of known benefits of long-term e-cigarette use."

The study, "Electronic cigarette use among cancer patients: Characteristics of e-cigarette users and their smoking cessation outcomes," was published in the American Cancer Society's journal, Cancer.

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