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When I tell anyone I research e-cigarettes, they almost always have an opinion about them. Many will be vapers themselves, and those who are almost without fail sing the praises of the device that finally helped them quit smoking. But often people who’ve never tried e-cigarettes will focus on the potential risks from using them, especially whether they’re prone to reintroduce smoking to a young generation who’ve been steadily shunning it in larger and larger numbers over recent decades. A certain fear is that young people will test out e-cigarettes and that this is a gateway in to smoking, as well as fears around the harms from e-cigarettes themselves.
A recently available detailed study well over 60,000 UK 11-16 year olds found that young adults who test out e-cigarettes are often people who already smoke cigarettes, as well as then experimentation mostly doesn’t translate to regular use. In addition to that, but smoking rates among young people in the united kingdom are still declining. Studies conducted up to now investigating the gateway hypothesis that vaping results in smoking have tended to check out whether having ever tried an e-cigarette predicts later smoking. But young adults who test out e-cigarettes will be different from people who don’t in plenty of alternative methods – maybe they’re just more keen to consider risks, which may also increase the likelihood that they’d test out cigarettes too, whether or not they’d used e-cigarettes.
Although you can find a small minority of young adults that do commence to use best vapor e cig without previously being a smoker, as yet there’s little evidence this then increases the risk of them becoming cigarette smokers. Enhance this reports from Public Health England which have concluded e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking, and you will think that would be the end in the fear surrounding them.
But e-cigarettes have really divided people health community, with researchers that have the most popular aim of decreasing the amounts of smoking and smoking-related harm suddenly finding themselves on opposite sides from the debate. This is concerning, and partly because in a relative dearth of research on the devices the same findings are used by either side to aid and criticise e-cigarettes. And all of this disagreement is playing in the media, meaning an unclear picture of what we realize (and don’t know) about e-cigarettes will be portrayed, with vapers feeling persecuted and people who have not even attempted to quit mistakenly believing that there’s no point in switching, as e-cigarettes could be equally as harmful as smoking.
An unexpected results of this could be it makes it harder to perform the research needed to elucidate longer-term results of e-cigarettes. Which is a thing we’re experiencing since we try to recruit for the current study. Our company is conducting a research project funded by CRUK, where we’re collecting saliva samples from smokers, vapers and non-smokers. We’re checking out DNA methylation, a biological marker that influences gene expression. It’s been shown that smokers use a distinct methylation profile, compared to non-smokers, and it’s probable that these modifications in methylation may be linked to the increased risk of harm from smoking – as an example cancer risk. Even if the methylation changes don’t cause the increased risk, they could be a marker of it. We wish to compare the patterns noticed in smokers and non-smokers with the ones from electronic cigarette users, potentially giving us some insight into the long term impact of vaping, without needing to watch for time to elapse. Methylation changes happen relatively quickly as compared to the start of chronic illnesses.
Portion of the difficulty with this is the fact we realize that smokers and ex-smokers use a distinct methylation pattern, and we don’t want this clouding any pattern from vaping, which means we must recruit vapers who’ve never (or certainly only hardly ever) smoked. And also this is proving challenging for just two reasons. Firstly, as borne out from the recent research, it’s rare for folks who’ve never smoked cigarettes to consider up regular vaping. Yes, maybe they’ll experiment, but that doesn’t necessarily result in an e-cigarette habit.
But in addition to that, an unexpected problem has become the unwillingness of some within the vaping community to assist us recruit. And they’re delay because of fears that whatever we find, the results will be used to paint a poor picture of vaping, and vapers, by people with an agenda to push. I don’t want to downplay the extreme helpfulness of plenty of people within the vaping community in helping us to recruit – thank you, you understand who you really are. But I was disheartened to learn that for some, the misinformation and scaremongering around vaping has reached the stage where they’re opting from the research entirely. And after talking with people directly relating to this, it’s hard to criticize their reasoning. We have now also found that numerous electronic cigarette retailers were immune to placing posters aiming cwctdr recruit people who’d never smoked, as they didn’t want to be seen to become promoting e-cigarette use within people who’d never smoked, which can be again completely understandable and really should be applauded.
Exactly what can we do concerning this? Hopefully as increasing numbers of scientific studies are conducted, and that we get clearer info on e-cigarettes ability to serve as a smoking cessation tool, the disagreement around them will disappear. Until then, Hopefully vapers still agree to participate in research so that we can fully explore the potential for these products, particularly those rare “unicorns” who vape but have never smoked, as they might be essential to helping us comprehend the impact of vaping, in comparison with smoking.