Could Restricting Nicotine in E-Cigarettes Do More Harm Than Good? Interview with:
e-cigarette CDC imageDr Lynne Dawkins, PhD

Associate Professor
London South Bank University What is the background for this study?

Response: Many people think that it’s the nicotine that’s harmful so they opt for using a low strength in their e-liquid. We know from tobacco smoking that when people switch to using a lower nicotine yield cigarette, they compensate in order to maintain a steady blood nicotine level by taking longer, harder drags and this can increase exposure to toxins in the smoke. We also know from some of our other work with vapers (e-cigarette users) that they tend to reduce the nicotine strength of their e-liquid over time. We therefore wanted to explore whether vapers also engage in this compensatory puffing and whether this has any effect on exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

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Does Preloading With a Nicotine Patch Help Smokers Quit? Interview with:
“Day 1 of nicotine patch, just stuffed my face with lunch at work and do NOT even want a cigarette” by David Bruce Jr. is licensed under CC BY 2.0Paul Aveyard
Professor of Behavioural Medicine
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
University of Oxford
Radcliffe Primary Care Building
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Oxford What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Tobacco addiction occurs because of repeated pairings of the act and sensation of smoking with binding of nicotine in the midbrain leading to release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. These repeated pairings create associative learning and, when brain nicotine concentrations fall, this produces a compulsion to keep using tobacco. In theory, blocking the actions of nicotine released while smoking ought to reverse this learning. One way to do this is to use a nicotine patch which provides a steady state high concentration of nicotine that desensitises the nicotinic receptors in the midbrain, making them unresponsive to nicotine from a smoked cigarette. This is the theory behind nicotine preloading.

The clinical trial evidence that preloading works is equivocal, with some trials suggesting a very large therapeutic effect and others no benefit at all. In the light of both the promise and the uncertainty, we aimed to complete the largest trial to date of nicotine preloading to examine its effectiveness, safety, and tolerability.

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Tobacco Flavorings On Their Own May Cause Heart Disease Interview with:
“fathers day” by James Simkins is licensed under CC BY 2.0Jessica L. Fetterman, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: In our study, we studied endothelial cells, the cells that line the inside of the blood vessels. We collected endothelial cells from smokers both who use menthol and non-menthol cigarettes are impaired compared to non-smokers and we could make the non-smoker cells look like the endothelial cells of smokers by treating with menthol or eugenol (provides a clove spice-flavoring).

To test a wider variety of commonly used flavoring additives, we treated cultured (outside of the body in a dish) endothelial cells with some of the most commonly used flavoring additives in tobacco products and at different concentrations/doses. We then evaluated the effects of flavoring additives by looking at measures of cell death, oxidative stress, inflammation, and the ability of the cells to produce nitric oxide, a cardio-protective chemical made by endothelial cells that is lost when the cells become damaged.

We found that the flavoring additives used in tobacco products like e-cigarettes are toxic to the cells that line the blood vessels (endothelial cells). Our works suggests that the flavoring additives used in tobacco products may be harmful to the cardiovascular system.

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Lung Cancer Risk Drops Almost 40% Within 5 Years of Quitting Smoking Interview with:
Hilary Tindle, MD, MPH

“Used Cigarette Butts” by Indi Samarajiva is licensed under CC BY 2.0Associate Professor of Medicine and theWilliam Anderson Spickard, Jr., MD Chair in Medicine
Founding Director of ViTAL, the Vanderbilt Center for Tobacco, Addiction and Lifestyle
Division of Internal Medicine & Public Health and Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) What is the background for this study?

Response: Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer related death for men and women ,and cigarette smoking is responsible for almost 9 of our every 10 lung cancers in the US. Lung cancer screening can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer by about 20% or even higher if screening is combined with quitting smoking.

We know that lung cancer risk is lower in people who quit smoking, compared to those who continue to smoke, but it was not clear how quickly this risk drops after quitting. Most prior studies on this subject assessed smoking status (current, former, never) at relatively few timepoints. By asking about smoking more frequently (every couple of years), we can get a better picture of a person’s true exposure to cigarette smoke and take into account periods where someone may have smoked more, less, or even quit altogether. Some people may start and stop multiple times over their lifetime.

Another question was exactly how long the risk of lung cancer stays elevated after quitting smoking. Again, by asking about smoking multiple times over someone’s lifetime, we get a better picture of how long they were truly smoke free. What are the main findings?

  •  We analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study Original and Offspring cohorts (almost 9000 people total) to study the risk of lung cancer after quitting smoking, and to determine if the risk of lung cancer ever goes back to that of someone who has never smoked (termed a “never smoker”). Study participants were followed for a median of almost 30 years, and were asked about smoking every 2-4 years.
  • We focused on heavier smokers, who had smoked more than 21 pack-years. (A “pack-year” is a way to quantify how much someone has been exposed to cigarette smoke. Pack years are the product of years of smoking times the amount smoked. For example, someone who smoked 1 pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years would have 20 pack years. Another person who smoked 2 packs per day for 10 years would also have 20 pack years.) As expected, the risks of lung cancer were highest among current smokers, followed by former smokers, followed by never smokers.
  • Compared to never smokers, former smokers had higher lung cancer risk: about 12 times higher within 10 years since quitting (YSQ), about 7 times higher from 10-15 YSQ, about 6 times higher from 15-25 YSQ, and over 3 times higher even after 25 YSQ.
  • Compared to current smokers, former smokers had lower lung cancer risk: 39% lower within 5 YSQ, which continued to drop over time.
  • Among all former smokers, about 4 in 10 lung cancers occurred after more than 15 YSQ, which is beyond the window of eligibility for current screening guidelines.

In the future, after additional study, guidelines may decide to extend the window of lung cancer screening beyond 15 YSQ. However, additional modeling studies are likely needed before making that determination. For now, anyone who qualifies for lung cancer screening based on age, pack years, and years since quitting, should have it. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: If you currently smoke cigarettes, now is a great time to quit. The results of this study show that lung cancer risk drops almost 40% within 5 years since quitting, compared to people who continue to smoke.

If you already quit smoking, congratulations on taking that major step.

Whether you currently smoke, or if you quit smoking within the last 15 years, talk to your doctor to see if you are eligible for lung cancer screening. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

 Response: We would like to see additional research from different groups to determine if the current lung cancer screening guidelines should potentially be altered to include those who quit more than 15 years ago. Again, this is a decision may require additional study, including an understanding of why some former smokers remain at elevated risk of lung cancer. Perhaps studying genetic variation could shed some light on this question. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Yes, we would like to thank the NIH and particularly the NHLBI for supporting the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and studies like it, and also to all the participants in the FHS for giving their information for decades, to the benefit of all Americans and the world. We consider studies such as the FHS to be “national treasures” in that they provide critical information for doctors and researchers to improve healthcare. The FHS is most often thought of as a cardiovascular dataset, but it also captures information on cancer. In the case of the current study, we re-analyzed information that was already collected, which is one of the efficient and low cost methods of conducting research. 


 Hilary A Tindle, Meredith Stevenson Duncan, Robert A Greevy, Ramachandran S Vasan, Suman Kundu, Pierre P Massion, Matthew S Freiberg. Lifetime Smoking History and Risk of Lung Cancer: Results From the Framingham Heart Study. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djy041


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Smokers At Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence Interview with:
“Stop smoking!” by Emil_95 is licensed under CC BY 2.0Shahrokh F. Shariat, M.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Urology,
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Medical University Vienna
Adjunct Professor of Urology and Medical Oncology
Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA
Adjunct Professor of Urology
UT Southwestern, Dallas, TX What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know that tobacco smoking produces more than 70 carcinogens and is associated with worse prognosis in many solid cancers.

Although the association between cigarette smoking and prostate cancer death has been demonstrated, such association regarding other end points is still unclear. We evaluated different disease endpoints, such as recurrence, occurrence of metastasis and cancer-specific mortality at an earlier stage of disease. We found that smokers who underwent primary treatment for localized prostate cancer – such as radical prostatectomy and radiotherapy – are at increased risk of recurrence, metastasis and cancer-specific mortality.  Continue reading

More Young Women Than Men Now Get Lung Cancer Interview with:
“Woman smoking” by Pedro Ribeiro Simões is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PHD
Scientific Vice President, Surveillance & Health Services Rsch
American Cancer Society, Inc.
Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Historically, lung cancer rates have been higher in men than women at all ages because of the substantially higher cigarette smoking prevalence in men.

However, cigarette smoking prevalences over the past few decades have become similar between young men and women. Consistent with this pattern, we previously reported the convergence of lung cancer rates between young men and young women. In this paper, we examined the lung cancer incidence rates in young women versus young men in the contemporary cohorts.

We found that the historically higher lung cancer incidence rates in young men than in young women have reversed in whites and Hispanics born since the mid-1960s. However, this emerging incidence patterns were not fully explained by sex difference in smoking prevalence as cigarette smoking prevalences among whites and Hispanics were not higher in young women than young men.

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Consumers Trying But Not Continuing E-Cigarettes Interview with:
“E-Cigarette/Electronic Cigarette/E-Cigs/E-Liquid/Vaping” by Vaping360 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Wei Bao, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology,
College of Public Health,
University of Iowa,
Iowa City, IA 52242 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Although the health effects of e-cigarettes remains unclear, e-cigarettes have been marketed as an approach for smoking cessation. Previous studies have reported an increase in e-cigarette use in US people since 2010. The current study showed that from 2014 to 2016, there was an increase in ever use of e-cigarettes but decline in current use of e-cigarettes.  Continue reading

Smoking: The Great Brain Drain Interview with:
“Stop smoking!” by Emil_95 is licensed under CC BY 2.0Janina Markidan MS III, MD Student

University of Maryland School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In a study of 1,145 young men, we found a strong dose-response relationship between the number of cigarettes smoked daily and the risk of ischemic stroke.

We categorized the participants as never smokers, former smokers and current smokers. Current smokers were divided into groups based on the number of cigarettes smoked daily, 1 to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 39, or 40 or more.

We found that men who smoked were 88 percent more likely to have a stroke than men who never smoked. Among current smokers, men who smoked fewer than 11 cigarettes daily were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked. But the heavier smokers, smoking at least two packs a day, were nearly 5 times (466%) more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked.  Continue reading

Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products Double Chances of Youth Smoking Within a Year Interview with:
“hookah” by Ksenia M is licensed under CC BY 2.0Benjamin Chaffee, DDS MPH PhD

UCSF School of Dentistry
San Francisco, CA 94118 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Non-cigarette tobacco products, which include electronic cigarettes, hookah (tobacco waterpipe), smokeless tobacco, and non-cigarette combustibles, like cigars, are increasingly popular among young people. Considerable debate surrounds whether use of these non-cigarette products encourages youth to begin smoking conventional cigarettes.

Several previous studies have shown associations between non-cigarette tobacco use and youth smoking. These studies had largely looked at only one type of tobacco product at a time. This study included more than 10,000 adolescents from all over the United States, surveyed at two time points one year apart. Therefore, this study featured enough participants and detailed information about tobacco behaviors to consider all types of tobacco products in a comprehensive way.

We found that each type of non-cigarette tobacco product (i.e., e-cigarettes, hookah, combustibles, or smokeless tobacco) added to smoking risk. Among youth who had never smoked a cigarette at the start of the survey, use of any of the non-cigarette products approximately doubled the odds of cigarette smoking within a year, after adjusting for multiple smoking-related risk factors. Each product independently increased risk. The adolescents most susceptible to future smoking to were those who had tried two or more types of non-cigarette tobacco.

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Married Head/Neck Cancer Patients Less Likely To Smoke, More Likely To Live Longer Interview with:

Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, BDS, MPH, CHES Instructor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Saint Louis University School of Medicine Member, Saint Louis University Cancer Center St Louis, Missouri

Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters

Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, BDS, MPH, CHES
Instructor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Member, Saint Louis University Cancer Center
St Louis, Missouri What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Several studies have shown that there is an adverse effect of smoking on head and neck cancer survival; however, there are studies that show no effect between smoking and head and neck cancer. We wanted to investigate this problem using a single institution’s cancer dataset. Additionally, we wanted to understand the role of marital status in the smoking behavior of head and neck cancer patients, and to understand if smoking played any role in head and neck cancer survival.

Our study confirmed that head and neck cancer patients who were smokers at the time of diagnosis had lower survival rates than nonsmokers. We also found that married head and neck cancer patients were less likely to be smokers and more likely to survive longer than those unmarried.

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Trained Volunteers Can Deliver Effective Brief Smoking Cessation Advice Interview with:
“Stop smoking!” by Emil_95 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dr. Man Ping Wang, PhD
School of Nursing
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Smoking cessation (SC) services can effectively increase the chance of abstinence, but few smokers proactively seek help from these services worldwide. Smoking cessation guidelines recommend referring smokers to SC services, but such referrals were usually conducted in a passive way (e.g. providing contacts of these services and asking smokers to use them). Actively referring smokers may increase use of smoking cessation services and abstinence rates.

Previous studies were mostly conducted in clinical settings. We investigated the efficacy of using trained volunteers to actively refer smokers recruited in the community to smoking cessation services in this cluster randomized control trial. We found that smokers who received a brief cessation advice and active referral had significantly higher abstinence rate and smoking cessation service use rate at 6-month follow-up, compared with smokers who received a minimal advice and a self-help booklet.

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Smoking Cessation Meds Underprescribed To Hospitalized Cardiac Patients Interview with:

Dr Quinn Pack

Dr. Quinn Pack

Dr.  Quinn R Pack MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine
Baystate Northern Region Cardiology
Baystate Health
Springfield, MA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and is very common among patients with heart disease.  Several smoking cessation medications are available and recommended in clinical guidelines to help smokers quite. However, it was unknown how often these were used and what factors make the use of pharmacotherapy more common.

The main finding is that, across of broad range of hospitals, smoking cessation medications are infrequently used and the hospital where the patient was treated was the most important factor in determining if the patient was treated.

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Holes in Cigarette Filters Linked To Increase in Lung Adenocarcinomas Interview with:
Peter G. Shields, M.D.
Deputy Director, Comprehensive Cancer Center
James Cancer Hospital
Professor, College of Medicine
Julius F. Stone Chair in Cancer Research
The Ohio State University Columbus, OH What do we know about the health effects of cigarette filters? 
Response:  The issue is that the design of the filters makes a cigarette even more dangerous, which can be regulated by the FDA. The issue is not about having a filter, but how they are made. And now we are changing the dialogue to the design of virtually all cigarettes. The holes on the filter are likely one reason the cigarettes of today are more dangerous.

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E-cigarette Smoke Increases Bladder Cancer Risk Interview with:

Moon-shong Tang, Ph</strong>D Professor of Environmental Medicine, Pathology and Medicine New York University School of Medicine Tuxedo Park, New York 10987

Dr. Moon-shong Tang

Moon-shong Tang, PhD
Professor of Environmental Medicine, Pathology and Medicine
New York University Langone School of Medicine
Tuxedo Park, New York 10987 What is the background for this study?

Response: E-cigarettes (E-cigs) are designed to deliver the stimulant nicotine through aerosols, commonly referred as vapors. Nicotine is dissolved in organic solvents such as glycerin and propylene glycol. The nicotine is then aerosolized by controlled electric heating. E-cigs do not use tobacco leaves and E-cig smoke does not involve the burning process. Hence, E-cig smoke (ECS) contains only nicotine and the gas phase of the solvent. Because ECS contains neither carcinogens nor allergens or odors from the tobacco burning process, E-cigs have been promoted as an invention that can deliver a TS ‘high’ without TS negative effects. The population of E-cig users is rapidly rising, particularly in young adults. It has been estimated that 16% of high school students are E-cig smokers. Therefore, the health effects of E-cig smoke, particularly its carcinogenicity, deserve careful scrutiny.

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Smoking Associated With Comorbidities in Atopic Dermatitis Interview with:

Jacob P. Thyssen MD, PhD, DmSci Department of Dermatology and Allergy Herlev and Gentofte Hospital University of Copenhagen Hellerup, Denmark

Dr. Thyssen

Jacob P. Thyssen MD, PhD, DmSci
Department of Dermatology and Allergy
Herlev and Gentofte Hospital
University of Copenhagen
Hellerup, Denmark What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Atopic dermatitis has been associated with various comorbidities. With the emergence of biologics for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, the hypothesis has been raised that atopic dermatitis is a systemic immune disease affecting more than just the skin.

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