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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma researcher has published a groundbreaking study on e-cigarettes and their impact on the effects of chemotherapy.

Doctors say when a patient who smokes is diagnosed with cancer, they often ask if switching to e-cigarettes or vapes will help.

Breaking the tobacco habit can be tough.

In fact, according to the OU College of Medicine – studies show more than 60% of lung, head, and neck cancer patients continue to smoke during cancer treatment.

So are e-cigarettes safer than traditional tobacco?

That’s the question Dr. Lurdes Quiemado at the OU College of Medicine has been working to answer.

“For smokers, they might be a better option than tobacco,” she said. 

Quiemado began a lab study exposing cancer cells initially to electronic cigarettes then treating them with a common chemo drug.

Findings suggested it made chemo less effective.

“But even in our data, it does suggest that at least for some tumors – the electronic cigarette is not as harmful as tobacco smoke,” said Quiemado. 

Of course the ideal solution would be for patients to quit tobacco use altogether – something she knows is tough and is prepared to help with.

“We do have tobacco cessation program that helps them by providing free nicotine and psychological support and other tools,” Queimado said. 

She says though more studies are needed, this research may help patients and doctors make more informed choices.

Her study was published in “Scientific Reports” – one of the world’s leading journals. Her next step is conducting a similar study in patients at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center.