Smokers False Belief: Nicotine Causes Cancer
A STUDY has found most adults falsely link nicotine to cancer - which could put them off switching to e-cigarettes, it has been revealed.
Smokers understand that nicotine is what makes them crave a cigarette but don’t realize it’s the burning tobacco which releases the most health-affecting carcinogens.
US company Pinney Associates presented the findings to the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco’s 24th annual meeting last week.
Researchers from the group analysed data from 1,736 adults and found around 85 per cent believed nicotine is what caused people to want to keep smoking. Nearly 53 percent went on to say they believed nicotine causes most of the cancer related to smoking.
While nicotine is present in combustible and electronic cigarettes, often used by smokers to quit their habit, several prominent studies - including research by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians - have found that vaping is up to 95 percent less harmful to use than traditional cigarettes.
Tobacco is currently the world’s leading cause of preventable death, accounting for around 6 million deaths each year, thanks to the cocktail of over 5,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, of which at least 70 may cause cancer.
E-cigarettes, on the other hand, do not contain tobacco but instead carry a nicotine-containing liquid, which is heated into a vapour and breathed in. The nicotine satisfies the cravings associated with a smoking addiction but it doesn’t cause cancer.
The common misconception could now be playing a major role in smokers not believing there is a significantly reduced risk of harm between traditional and e-cigarettes, so aren’t making the switch.
“It’s troubling that adults’ misperceptions about the health effects of nicotine persist despite the long-term availability of FDA-approved over-the-counter NRT products,” said Karen Gerlach, lead author on the study.
Pinney Associates, a pharmaceutical development company, went on to say the study shows federal regulators need to be upfront and clearer “to the public, especially smokers, that nicotine is not what is causing smoking-related disease”.
Gerlach said that having federal regulators, as well as public-health advocacy group, provide more clarity on how nicotine is consumed can help smokers “understand that there is a continuum of risk across nicotine-containing products, and use that understanding to help them reduce risks to their health.”
Following the report, doctors have confirmed they commonly find patients falsely believe it's the nicotine inside cigarettes which cause cancer, so don’t see the benefits of trying safer alternatives.
Dr. John Spangler, professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, said he faces “this misconception about nicotine virtually every day in clinic”.
He said that the notion affects his ability to get some patients to view Nicotine Replacement Therapy products as a viable option to quit smoking.
Spangler added nicotine “is pretty safe for the vast majority of patients — except for pregnant women, adolescents and ill patients with unstable heart disease.”