American Cancer Society’s annual report was recently published and indicates another year of dropping cancer death rates
The annual cancer report conducted and published by the American Cancer Society was released last week. Cancer rates have been dropping for 30 years, with their estimates putting it around 26% since 1991. But especially over the last five years, which have seen the growth of vaping, cancer death rates have dropped even further, with an estimated 350,000 lives saved between 2014 and 2015 alone.
These drops in cancer death rate are primarily due to the increased awareness of risks and the social stigma in lighting up at all. Whatever the case, we’re working toward a healthier world, and vaping has been a significant portion of that. While the ACS report didn’t single out e-cigarettes, there is no lack of evidence backing up the fact that vaping is one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against smoking.
The American Cancer Society’s annual Cancer Statistics report is published in their Cancer Journal for Clinicians. It details the new cancer cases and deaths that occur each year. Their information comes from doctors all across the country. By analyzing the many different demographics and circumstances, they hope to understand what increases risk and alternatively, what can limit the danger. Some of the reports most exciting findings include that over two million lives have been saved over the last 20 years due to the increased awareness of cancer risk. Even more significant is their observation of a narrowing racial gap, credited to the fact that only about half of African Americans who were uninsured in 2010 still go without insurance today.
As mentioned, the report itself doesn’t discuss vaping, but there is a ton of recent evidence that supports the connection between vaping and a declining cancer rate. Most directly, a study out of the University of California supported the idea that vaping is an essential factor in the declining rates. They found that the dramatic increase in vaping over the last five-plus years has coincided with a significant increase in the success of smoking cessation attempts in the same period. The researchers felt that it was necessary for e-cigarettes to be carefully considered when tobacco regulation and smoking cessation policies are being drafted and rewritten.
Another study backing up the connection between vaping and the drop smoking and cancer rates is a late 2017 study out of the University of Louisville that tested the effectiveness of several different smoking cessation methods. In addition to e-cigarettes, this included the classic cold turkey method, as well as FDA approved nicotine patches and gum. It even tested prescription drugs aimed at helping people quit smoking, such as Chantix.
Their results found that vaping was by far the most successful tool, significantly contributing the successful quit attempt of over a quarter of participants. The next closest method was the prescription drugs, but they only were successful for a little over 20% of the participants, while most other methods landed in the mid-teens. These findings were further supported by the British Psychological Society, who updated their guidelines regarding vaping to suggest that e-cigarettes are particularly useful due to their satisfying many of the psychological cues associated with cigarette smoking.
Continued Public Mistrust
While most of the latest evidence strongly supports vaping as a powerful smoking cessation tool, the general public still seems to be unsure if vaping is even any safer than smoking at all. A poll conducted by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of the public believed vaping to be much safer than smoking. What’s much worse is that over 26% of people thought that vaping is just as, if not more, dangerous than tobacco. These figures can be genuinely sobering for anyone who believes that vaping is approaching full acceptance. But despite all of the skepticism, the rise of vaping has only bolstered the drop in cancer death rates and cases.
Public Health England, the federal health agency for England, famously published a report in 2015 that claimed vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Since then, many studies have zeroed in on similar results when looking into the risk of e-cigarettes compared with their combustible counterparts. Last year a study by Dr. William Stephens of the University of St Andrews indicated that vaping is much more similar to medical inhalers than they are to smoke. He found that regularly vaping is around 99% safer than smoking. Even more impressive was researchpublished in late October that indicated the Excess Lifetime Cancer Risk (ELCR) of vapers is about 57,000 times lower than smokers!
Most reputable scientists agree, vaping is much safer than smoking and should be utilized by smokers looking to quit. Which begs the question, why do so many people believe vaping is just as bad if not worse than smoking? Renowned tobacco control expert, Prof. Linda Bauld has a theory. She thinks the media reinforces the negative stories about vaping and disregards most of the positive research, simply because it’s easier to sell a scary story than it is to sell a good one. The truth is that more people tune in when they believe that the health of themselves and their family may be at risk.
While this may not be 100% of the reason, it’s very likely that this is a significant factor in why so few people seem to understand the true nature of vaping compared with smoking. There is a lot of excellent and reputable information out there, but there is also so much false and misleading information that it can be tough to know what’s right and what’s wrong. If we genuinely want to live in a world that is free of smoking, it’s vital that we first make the differences between vaping and smoking clear to more people. Otherwise, there will always be a notable portion of savable smokers who never give e-cigarettes a chance.
Do you think vaping has made an impact on the cancer rates in America? If not, do you think they ever will? Should the government do more to ensure that the general public understands that vaping is much safer than smoking? Let us know in the comments.