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Makers of electronic cigarettes claim they are safer than tobacco products, and consumers are buying in. Since hitting the U.S market in 2007, e-cigarettes have exploded in popularity. But how do cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes really stack up when it comes to your health?

Much is still unknown about e-cigarettes, especially in the long-term. To help sort fact from hype, head and neck surgeon Brandon Prendes, MD, answers questions about the dangers of smoking and what we know so far about e-cigarettes.

Q: How do e-cigarettes work?

A: E-cigarettes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But all devices operate in the same way. A battery powers a coil, which heats a liquid that nearly always contains nicotine. This produces a vapor that users inhale, just as with a traditional cigarette.

This process, called vaping, resembles smoking, but no actual combustion occurs. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine without the tar and smoke of a traditional tobacco cigarette. But the user still receives a dose of nicotine directly into the lungs and bloodstream.

Q: Is vaping any safer than smoking cigarettes or cigars?

A: Cigarettes are still the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States.

“Cigarette smoking is the most well-researched of the three nicotine delivery systems and undoubtedly poses serious and significant health risks, which have been clearly defined,” Dr. Prendes says. “These include increased risk for head and neck, lung, esophageal, pancreatic and urologic cancers, as well as vascular, cardiac, pulmonary disease and wound healing issues.”

He says the overall health risk of e-cigarettes appears lower than that of traditional cigarette smoking.

He adds, however, “The long-term health risks and addiction risks associated with vaping are currently unknown, including the effect of e-cigarettes on lung health and cancer risks. More research must examine any health effects of inhalation.”

Q: Why is more e-cigarette research needed?

A: In addition to the long-term health risks of vaping — which researchers can only study over time — several other questions remain unanswered.

Research links chemicals found in e-cigarette vapor, such as formaldehyde, with head and neck cancers, Dr. Prendes says.

Common chemicals in certain e-cigarettes, as well as in their flavorings, meet the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definition of generally recognized as safe. But that FDA designation applies to oral ingestion.

“These substances have unknown health effects on the lungs and need more study,” Dr. Prendes says. 

Q: How do cigars compare with cigarettes and vaping?

A: Some cigar smokers don’t inhale and/or don’t smoke as frequently as cigarette smokers. This may suggest that cigar smoking is somehow safer. But that is not true.

“Cigar smoking carries similar health risks to cigarette smoking,” Dr. Prendes says.

Research links it to oral, esophageal, pancreatic, laryngeal and lung cancers, coronary artery disease and aortic aneurysm.

“Most of these risks are still elevated even in smokers who don’t inhale,” he says.

In relation to vaping, he says, “There is no research to my knowledge comparing these two delivery systems specifically, but it is a widely held view among physicians and authorities that combustible tobacco use — which includes cigars — is more hazardous to health than e-cigarette use.”

Q: Can e-cigarettes help smokers quit?

A: There is some evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers give up tobacco, Dr. Prendes says. And some smokers prefer e-cigarettes over traditional nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gum. But, with the lack of long-term data, doctors should still recommend the conventional therapies first, he says. 

“If patients have tried all of these methods and are still unable to quit combustible tobacco products, then e-cigarettes may provide assistance to some patients to help them quit,” he says.

Q: What’s the bottom line on the risks of cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes?

A: While Dr. Prendes and most experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control, agree that e-cigarette use poses lower health risks, nicotine in any form is dangerous. Pregnant women and those who have a heart condition are particularly vulnerable and should avoid cigarettes, cigars and vaping.

Dr. Prendes’ best advice is that if you don’t smoke or vape, don’t start. If you are a smoker or a vaper, get help to kick the habit to improve your health in the long-term.

SOURCE: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/03/health-risks-of-vaping-compared-to-tobacco-smoking/

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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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To learn more about Long Island Spine Specialists – and to discover how we can relieve your pain and help you find an improved quality of life – please contact our office today and schedule a consultation.

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