E-Cigarettes May Not Help Cancer Patients Quit

Electronic cigarettes did not increase smoking cessation in cancer patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Cancer patients trying to kick the smoking habit may reach for e-cigarettes — but do the devices help in the fight to avoid conventional cigarettes? Likely not, suggests a new study.

The study followed cancer patients enrolled in a program to help them quit smoking.

The researchers found that those who used e-cigs and those who did not were just as likely to be smoking conventional cigarettes several months after beginning the program.

"Quit smoking now to improve your health."

According to the authors of this new study, which was led by Jamie S. Ostroff, PhD, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, e-cigs are becoming more common, even though there is little evidence on their safety or effectiveness in helping people kick the habit.

Dr. Ostroff and team aimed to explore whether e-cigs, which use heat to vaporize a nicotine solution, helped with tobacco cessation in cancer patients — a group strongly urged to quit smoking.

To do so, the authors looked at 1,074 cancer patients at MSKCC between January 2012 and December 2013. The patients were all smokers who had enrolled in a program to help them quit smoking.

Dr. Ostroff and colleagues saw a big jump in e-cig use during the study. In 2012, 10.6 percent of the patients reported using e-cigs — a number which increased to 38.5 percent a year later.

About 400 patients completed a follow-up assessment an average of 10 months after starting the tobacco cessation program. Dr. Ostroff and team found that the e-cig users were just as likely as nonusers to be smoking conventional cigarettes.

During a follow-up interview, 44.4 percent of e-cig users and 43.1 percent of nonusers reported not smoking tobacco for the previous seven days — roughly the same rate.

Further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand more about how e-cigs affect smoking cessation, the authors noted.

The study was published online Sept. 22 in the journal Cancer. The authors disclosed no funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 18, 2014
Last Updated:
September 22, 2014