COPD and Smoking
E-cigarettes are an amazing tool for smokers who want to move to a much less harmful alternative. But what if smoking has already caused damage, will switching to e-cigarettes help?
Today we are looking at a study focused on one of the major diseases caused by smoking, COPD, and how e-cigarettes effect it. This land mark study found that just by making the switch from cigarettes to E-cigarettes all the participants had a marked improvement in their symptoms.
COPD and Smoking
For those who have never heard of COPD it stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and is found almost exclusively in long term smokers. COPD is the second most common lung disease (behind asthma) with over 4.5% of adults having it.
In fact COPD is actually a bit of an umbrella term, including other diseases such as emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs) and chronic bronchitis (long-term inflammation of the airways).
The symptoms include:
- increased breathlessness
- a persistent chesty cough with phlegm
- frequent chest infections
- persistent wheezing
A lot of these symptoms gets waved off as "smokers cough" but COPD can have serious health implications, and will only get worse as the smoker gets older. If left untreated it can lead to the degradation of the lungs and even death. In 2012 almost 30,000 people died from COPD in the UK alone, and as more and more smokers are being diagnosed with COPD this number might go up.
Currently there is no cure for COPD, but there are ways to ease the symptoms and stop the disease from spreading further.
What's worse is that this disease almost entirely a man-made, as most people get COPD from years of exposure to the 4000+ chemicals in tobacco.
COPD and E-Cigarettes
As smoking is the main cause of the disease and a major factor in making it worse, there seems to be a pretty simple solution, stop smoking. However as any long term smoker can tell you, it may be simple but in no way does that makes it easy to do.
A study was actually conducted on COPD sufferers, looking at the best ways to help them quit. It found that due to most of the people suffering from COPD being heavy smokers, it was extremely difficult to actually get them to quit completely.
More success was found in getting these heavy cigarette smokers to moderate their smoking with patches, gum and counselling sessions. These methods helped, but was no-where near what they were aiming for.
A different approach then might be called for, and in a study conducted by Dr Riccardo Polosa, head of the Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Tobacco Addiction in Catalonia, suggested E-cigarettes.
Although the doctor did acknowledge that nicotine is addictive and that young people should avoid it (which we at SMOKO 100% agree with) he went on to say it is not the nicotine in cigarettes that causes them to be the number 1 preventable cause of death in the world, but the 4000+ chemicals in burning tobacco.
E-Cigarettes, which have none of the 4000+ chemicals that Dr Riccardo Polosa was referring to, could then help COPD sufferers by eliminating the chemicals, while still giving them the nicotine they need.
The study spanned 3 years and followed 44 smokers who suffered with COPD and found that although e-cigarettes will not cure COPD, it will stop the decline in lung function and "may reverse some of the harm resulting from tobacco smoking in COPD patients."
This study actually went a bit deeper than this though, as it looked at the difference between a control group (which kept on smoking cigarettes), duel users (who smoked cigarettes and used an E-cigarette) and only E-cigarette users. They found that across both groups that used an E-cigarette there were significant improvements.
The group that used both cigarettes and E-cigarettes didn't have the same improvements as just E-cigarette users, but even just replacing a few of their cigarettes with puffs on an e-cigarette a day helped with their COPD symptoms.
And this is in line with other studies on the toxin levels of duel users and e-cigarette only users. A Cancer Research UK study looked at the difference in the toxin levels between only E-cigarette users, E-cigarette and cigarette users and only cigarette users and hit upon the same point. They found that although those duel users who use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes have less toxins in their body compared to cigarette only smokers, they have many more toxins than those who just use e-cigarettes.
The study by Dr Riccardo Polosa also found that among those who duel used E-cigarettes and cigarettes there was a sharp decrease in cigarette use over the 3 years. Over 40% of these heavy smokers were, with the help of e-cigarettes, able to finally give up smoking.
Though this study was on a small amount of people and larger studies will need to be done to make sure, the fact that this study was conducted over 3 years shows real promise for smokers with COPD.
Not only were the smokers in this study able to improve their COPD symptoms but they were able to keep getting the nicotine they needed. And even better, E-cigarettes were able to get many of them off cigarettes finally. And if a group which has been scientifically shown to have very low rates of quitting were able to finally put down the cigarettes with the help of E-cigarettes, then that might give hope to others too.
If you want to give E-cigarettes a try and see if you too can make the switch to a 95% less harmful alternative to cigarettes, then try our starter kit! To have a look at our full range of flavours and styles just click here - https://smoko.com/pages/electronic-cigarette-starter-kit