There is a growing consensus in the global medical community that electronic cigarettes are a less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes. After completing an extensive evidence-based review on e-cig research, Public Health England was the first health organization to officially recognize the potential health benefits of electronic cigarettes and their potential as a safer alternative to tobacco. Since then, new research continues to suggest that smokers who switch to vaping may experience immediate health improvements.
New Studies Find More Potential Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking with E-Cigs
Two recent studies have found new and overwhelmingly positive potential health benefits of switching from smoking to vaping. One study found that picking up e-cigs can help lower smokers’ blood pressure, which is surprising because nicotine has long been believed to be the culprit behind hypertension in some smokers. The other promising study suggests that women who use e-cigs to help cut down on smoking are less susceptible to weight gain during tobacco cessation, which likely lowers their overall health risks while increasing their chances of successfully quitting tobacco.
Can Replacing Tobacco with E-cigs Improve Cardiovascular Health?
The American Heart Association acknowledges a strong correlation between smoking tobacco and having high blood pressure, but it is unknown why exactly this link exists. While not all smokers consistently have high blood pressure, smoking a single cigarette will cause anyone’s blood pressure to temporarily increase for several minutes.
The authors of a study published in Internal and Emergency Medicine gave e-cigs to a group of smokers and regularly checked their blood pressure over the course of a year. Some of the participants completely gave up tobacco for vaping, others cut back on the daily number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked and the rest of the group maintained their regular smoking habits. Of the smokers who were identified as having a high baseline blood pressure, those who reduced their tobacco consumption by at least 50 percent saw a significant drop in systolic blood pressure over 52 weeks. The people who quit smoking altogether saw the greatest improvements, yet dual users who substantially cut back on tobacco with the help of e-cigs also experienced significant blood pressure decreases. The results led the authors to conclude, “Smokers who reduce or quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes may lower their systolic BP in the long term.”
Can Vaping Prevent Weight Gain During Smoking Cessation?
Weight gain is a very common and unpleasant side effect of smoking cessation. About 80 percent of smokers who give up tobacco put on weight, and this sad fact leads a lot of them right back to smoking. Their concerns should not be written off as superficial; excessive weight gain can carry some of the same health hazards as smoking, including heart trouble and cancer. Therefore, overeating is not a healthy coping strategy for managing the anxiety that many smokers experience when they try to quit.
Fortunately, a study looking at body weight fluctuations in smokers who switched to vaping found that e-cigs may help curb the soaring appetite associated with quitting tobacco. A group of women who traded tobacco for e-cigs were followed for over a year, and none of them experienced significant weight gain. Even participants who used e-cigarettes that didn’t contain nicotine maintained a consistent weight. This is particularly interesting because nicotine is an appetite suppressant, and nicotine withdrawal was believed to be a driving factor in weight gain; however, other factors such as oral fixation and stress-eating seem to play a larger role. Since we know that weight gain is a common obstacle to quitting smoking for some people, it’s reasonable to say that e-cigarettes make smoking cessation a little easier.
E-cigs May Help Smokers Improve Their Health
These exciting studies were based on small sample sizes, and the researchers rightfully caution against making sweeping claims about the potential health benefits of e-cigs. Nonetheless, this information gives direction to future research into the specific ways that vaping may be safer than smoking.