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Doctors' Advices on E-Cigarettes Vary, Study Says

Aug 27, 2016 04:09 AM EDT

A new study reveals that advices from physicians about e-cigarettes vary.

According to EurekAlert, a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine reveals that if you ask two doctors about e-cigarettes, you will get two different answers. The study analyzed more than 500 online interactions between patients and doctors who are discussing e-cigarettes.

Though they have previously studied doctors and their knowledge with e-cigarettes, the researchers were curious about actual provider behavior -- the advice doctors give in real patient interactions, said Judith Prochaska, PhD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes differ on how they are being used. While traditional cigarettes work when you inhale the burning tobacco to bring the nicotine to your body, e-cigarettes heats up liquid until it vaporizes. E-cigarettes are new in the market and are promoted to be safer compare to traditional cigarette. However there are few studies conducted about it so e-cigarettes' safety is still debatable. Here lays the challenge for the physicians what advices to give to the patients with little information on their hands.

The scientists teamed up with the researchers of HealthTap, an online health company where anyone can ask medical advice from 72,000 licensed physicians. Interestingly, there are a lot of straightforward questions such as "Are e-cigs unsafe and can they become addictive?" to more specific concerns, including "Does nicotine/e-cigs cause hair loss?" and "Can vapor cigarettes affect asthma?"

Science Daily noted that most of the patients' concerns matched with most of the frequent themes of physicians. These concerns are usually about side effects and general safety. Doctors frequently mentions topics that patients did not brought up such as a need to research more on e-cigarettes and the comparison of safety between e-cigarettes and combusted tobacco. Also, the doctors expressed their concern about nicotine addiction.

A blog post from Stanford Medicine says the study also touches on the overall tone of the physicians' answers, saying that 47 percent of doctors shows a "negative" answer as they afe focus on the risks while another 20 percent give "positive" repsonses, such as encouraging the use of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids. There are 54 percent of doctors who suggested e-cigarettes as a potential tool to whose patients who asked specifically about quitting smoking.

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