Many people are turning to nicotine substitutes to avoid the more apparent risk of lung cancer associated with smoking. E-cigarettes are one of the options growing in popularity, although not much research has been done into their relative safety. Recently, researchers sought to assess whether use of nicotine replacement products had a negative impact on bone and wound healing.
The researchers mainly focused on the question of whether using nicotine substitutes heavily may yield poor health outcomes. These products do contain a small amount of nicotine, therefore using them heavily may have certain side effects and risks similar to straight-up cigarette smoking. Looking at the last five years of studies into humans and summarizing the results, the researchers found that heavy use of nicotine replacement products interfered with the normal capabilities of stem cells. Stem cells are “blank slate” cells that can become other types of cells in the body. They are imperative to the healing process as new skin, bone or other tissue needs to be formed. They concluded that heavy use of nicotine substitutes likely inhibits the body’s healing mechanisms.
See more on this review of studies at www.eurekalert.org.
People who opt for a nicotine substitute in their quest to quit should be aware of the nicotine content in the product they use, as well as potential risks. When information on risks is not available, people should know that they are potentially incurring unknown risks.
Those looking to quit may want to consider psychotherapy along with or as an alternative to nicotine substitutes. Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful in assisting people to quit smoking; it helps people assess their beliefs, attitudes and feelings about smoking and teaches coping skills. Some insurance plans cover at least part of the cost of interventions to quit smoking, including psychotherapy. Check your plan, if you have one, to see what your covered options are.