Cardiologists Lash Out At Misguided Information Condemning Ecigs
Last week, the BMA Occupational Medicine Committee released an article claiming that the safety of e-cigarettes is yet to be proven. World renowned cardiologists Konstantinos Farsalinos and Riccardo Polosa responded with a complete rebuttal, claiming that scientific evidence abounds and “clearly indicates e-cigarettes are considerably less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.” In their response, the doctors made an appeal to the medical community to examine the actual scientific evidence rather than giving vague and misguided statements that would scare the public away from using e-cigarettes.
Farsalinos and Polosa pointed out that the very logic of ecig criticism is flawed. While critics claim that because there are a handful of potential health consequences, this is not reason to dismiss ecigs as useless. “Of course, unexpected health consequences may occur in the medical profession as it has been also the case with several medications… But this cannot be used as a valid argument to oppose e-cigarettes.”
The original publication called for ecigs to be isolated and quarantined until more long-term research was conducted. However, Farsalinos and Polosa said that this request was unreasonable and it was not required of any other products that are daily approved for human consumption. “Even for medications, no regulatory agency is asking for long-term safety data before being approved for use.” They make a case that waiting on long-term research would paralyze the progress of modern medicine.
The doctors pointed out that much of the argument against ecigs is misleading. While the original report cited potential poisonings of children by e-liquid exposure, the Farsalinos and Polosa claim that the whole idea is unsubstantiated. “Until now, there are no documented cases of deaths from exposure to e-cigarette liquids. It is misleading to quote occasional cases of accidental poisoning without providing professional medical reporting.” They went on to explain how the number of suspected poisoning incidences were far fewer than those reported routinely from basic household cleaners. With the introduction of child-proof packaging for e-liquids, these cases are becoming even more obsolete.
The doctors also challenged the report’s representation of a how much nicotine it takes to cause death. They point out that the lethal nicotine dosage needs to be formally reevaluated since the numbers that are often used were determined in the 19th century. Newer studies showed the lethal dose was 500-1000 mg, rather than the 40-60 mg that the report claims. It’s also important to realize that one of the first side effects of nicotine poisoning is vomiting, which often prevents nicotine ingestion from becoming life threatening.
In the BMA’s original report, the authors reference that nicotine could cause cancer. However, the doctors point out there is no clinical evidence that this is true. “On the contrary, there is a wealth of epidemiological data of long-term nicotine intake from snus use. Evidence shows that there is minimal, if any, effect of snus (and the resulting nicotine intake) in cancer incidence.” The doctors also argue that there is no risk to respiratory health by using ecigs. In fact, they provided scientific evidence that smokers with a history of asthma and COPD that switched from cigarettes to ecigs had a substantial improvement in their lung function.
Farsalinos and Polosa issued a firm reminder that ecigs are completely different from tobacco cigarettes in that they are not intended to appeal to nonsmokers. In fact, e-cigs were developed and are endorsed as a substitute for smokers that wish to stop using tobacco. They end their rebuttal by lashing out at the BMA for lack of scientific evidence for their claims. “It is irresponsible to promote risks that are not proven and to deprive smokers of a product which, based on all scientific evidence, is reducing their exposure to health hazards to a large extent.”
Do you think the doctors made a good case against the BMA’s claims? What are some other common myths you see circulating about ecigs that need to be addressed?