E-Cigarettes Fail to Help Cancer Patients Quit Smoking

A new study has confirmed that e-cigarettes are doing more harm than good when it comes to helping cancer patients quit smoking.

A new study has confirmed that e-cigarettes are doing more harm than good when it comes to helping cancer patients quit smoking.

According to the study, published early online in Cancer, cancer patients who smoke e-cigarettes in addition to regular cigarettes are more nicotine dependent and equally or less likely to have quit smoking traditional cigarettes as non-users.

Researchers studied 1074 cancer patients who smoked and were enrolled between 2012 and 2013 in a tobacco treatment program within a comprehensive cancer center.

The researchers found a three-fold increase in e-cigarette use from 2012 to 2013 (10.6% versus 38.5%). The study also found that at time of enrollment in the program, e-cigarette users were more nicotine dependent than non-users, had more prior quit attempts, and were more likely to be diagnosed with lung or head and neck cancers.

At follow-up, e-cigarette users were just as likely as non-users to be smoking and 7-day abstinence rates were 44.4% versus 43.1% for e-cigarette users and non-users, respectively (excluding patients who were lost to follow-up).

“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,” lead researcher Jamie Ostroff, PhD, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City said in a statement. “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.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), e-cigarette use quadrupled from 2009 to 2010. In a 2010 survey, the CDC found that 1.2% of adults, or 3 million people, reported using electronic cigarettes in the previous month.

“As clinicians, we need to assess patients and need to be asking if patients smoke and/or use electronic cigarettes. We also need to become informed of research findings on e-cigarette safety, which is especially critical at a time when e-cigarette manufacturers are increasing their marketing efforts about them,” said Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, OCN, FAAN, editor-in-chief Oncology Nursing News.