Vaping After Quitting Smoking Keeps Lung Cancer Risk High

Adobe Stock

Key Takeaways

  • Folks who vape after quitting smoking may not see their odds for lung cancer subside as quickly, compared to those who avoid both habits

  • The finding was especially pronounced in older ex-smokers, new Korean research showed

  • Doctors may want to counsel smoking patients to not consider vaping a 'safe' alternative

TUESDAY, May 21, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- If you've quit smoking and have switched to vaping instead, your odds for lung cancer won't fall as steeply as if you quit nicotine altogether, new research suggests.

“This is the first large population-based study to demonstrate the increased risk of lung cancer in e-cigarette users after smoking cessation,” said study lead author Dr. YeonWook Kim. He's an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, in Seongnam, South Korea.

Kim's team presented its findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego.

Many smokers are turning to nicotine-laden vapes in what they may believe is a "safe" switch from traditional cigarettes.

But does their risk for lung cancer drop to levels that equal those of quitting nicotine completely?

To find out, Kim's team tracked outcomes for over 4.3 million South Koreans who enrolled in the country's National Health Screening Program in either 2012-2014 or 2018. Follow-up was conducted in 2021.

Participants were divided into categories by smoking/vaping habits.

Over the follow-up period, over 53,000 developed lung cancer and 6,351 died from the disease.

Folks who'd quit smoking for five years or more but were vaping still faced higher odds for fatal lung cancer than those who'd quit smoking for the same length of time but hadn't taken up e-cigarettes, Kim's team found.

And for those who'd quit smoking for less than five years, switching to vaping raised risks for either getting lung cancer or dying of the disease, compared to those who quit but did not take up vaping.

The trend was especially strong in people ages 50 to 80, the Korean team found.

“Our results indicate that when integrating smoking cessation interventions to reduce lung cancer risk, the potential harms of using e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking must be considered,” Kim concluded in a meeting news release.

Because these findings were presented at a medical meeting they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Find out more about the hazards of vaping at Harvard Health.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 20, 2024

What This Means For You

Switching to vaping after quitting smoking might not go far enough to lower your lung cancer risks.

Related Stories

No stories found.