Is Long Term Use of Nicotine Replacement Therapies (Sprays, Gum and Patches) Harmful to Your Health?

Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is a valuable tool for smoking cessation with a favorable safety profile. Long-term use of NRT is uncommon, and its use does not appear to increase nicotine intake in smokers or affect stress response. While minor side effects are associated with NRT, the benefits of quitting smoking with the aid of NRT, especially for older patients and pregnant women, outweigh the potential risks. However, given the limitations of existing studies, particularly regarding the duration of NRT use and follow-up, further research is needed to fully understand the long-term health effects of NRT.


The Impact of Long-Term Nicotine Replacement Therapy on Health

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is widely used to aid smoking cessation, offering nicotine through gums, patches, sprays, and other forms without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. However, the long-term health implications of NRT use have been a subject of research and debate.

Efficacy and Safety of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Studies have shown that NRT can effectively increase the chances of quitting smoking by 50-70%, regardless of the setting or the intensity of additional support provided. This effectiveness is consistent across various forms of NRT, including gum, patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, and lozenges. The benefits of NRT are not only limited to the general population but also extend to specific groups such as pregnant women and older patients, where it has been found to be a safer alternative to smoking.

Concerns and Adverse Effects of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Despite its efficacy, concerns about the potential adverse health effects of long-term NRT use persist. Some studies have reported side effects such as heart palpitations, chest pains, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia associated with NRT use. Skin irritation from patches and irritation to the mouth from gums and lozenges have also been noted. However, serious adverse events are extremely rare, and the odds of experiencing chest pains or palpitations are relatively low.

Long-Term Use and Chronic Conditions of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

The long-term use of NRT has been evaluated in the context of chronic lung disease, with findings indicating that it does not result in greater rates of cessation or harm reduction compared to standard smoking cessation interventions. Moreover, a systematic review found no evidence that NRT exposure is associated with serious adverse health effects such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or stroke. However, the majority of studies have short-term exposure and follow-up, which limits the conclusions that can be drawn about the long-term safety of NRT.

Nicotine Dependence and Relapse

One meta-analysis suggested that the relative efficacy of a single course of NRT remains constant over many years, and the majority of relapse after 12 months occurs within the first or second year. This indicates that while NRT can have a permanent effect on smoking cessation, initial relapse rates diminish the number of ex-smokers that can be ultimately attributed to NRT.


Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Hayden McRobbie has answered Unlikely

An expert from Queen Mary University of London in Public Health, Behavioural Science, Clinical Research, Obesity

There are unlikely to be any adverse effects of using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) long-term.

The majority of long-term NRT users are ex-smokers, who require the ongoing NRT use to keep them from relapsing back to smoking. Using NRT long-term is many times less harmful than smoking.


Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Karl Erik Lund has answered Unlikely

An expert from Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Public Health

The vast majority of the harm from smoking is caused by the burning of tobacco and not nicotine.  Despite being an established treatment, there is considerable worry among potential users and quit-smoking councilors regarding the safety of long-term NRT use, possibly due to misunderstandings about the role of nicotine separate from smoked tobacco. Studies find that long-term NRT use is safe and any associated health risks small, certainly compared with continued smoking. Only a small percentage of ex-smokers continue to use NRT beyond the standard length of 3 months so there are not many studies available. The medical consensus seem to be that long-term NRT appears to be a safe and effective way to reduce exposure to combustible nicotine. Long-term use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been approved in several countries for smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit smoking. Side effects from using NRT are related to the type of product, and include skin irritation from patches and irritation to the inside of the mouth from gum and tablets. There is no evidence that NRT increases the risk of heart attacks.


Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Tim Coleman has answered Extremely Unlikely

An expert from The University of Nottingham in Clinical Research

This answer relates to using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) instead of smoking. This is the way that NRT is intended to be used. There may be some odd people out there who have started using NRT without actually being a smoker and this does not apply to them.

Tobacco smoke contains lots (thousands actually) of nasty cancer causing chemicals and toxins; it also contains carbon monoxide. Many of these substances are harmful (e.g. cause cancer). Nicotine is also present in tobacco smoke; although nicotine is addictive and fuels cigarette / tobacco addiction it seems otherwise relatively harmless.

Many, many research studies have shown that the long term consequences of tobacco smoking are dire. There are very few studies which have investigated the health impact of using nicotine long term but shorter term studies are reassuring and as NRT contains only nicotine without the thousands of toxins in tobacco smoke, it is not remotely possible that long term NRT use could be considered harmful when the alternative is continued smoking.


Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Mark G Myers has answered Unlikely

An expert from University of California, San Diego in Addiction

There have been few studies looking at long-term effects of nicotine or nicotine replacement. Those published find a) that nicotine does not increase likelihood of lung tumors, b) a long term study with rats (2-years exposed to high levels of vapor nicotine) find no difference between those exposed and not exposed on lung health, only difference noted that those exposed weigh less, c) an article that interviewed Dr. Richard Hurt at the Mayo Clinic and Dr. John Hughes at University of Vermont, both eminent scholars in smoking cessation both indicated that they do not believe there are any significant health risks to long term use of nicotine replacement. This would be consistent with my own observational experience of patients who quit smoking but continued using NRT for at least 2 years.

Note that nicotine does have acute effects on heart rate (increased) and causes short term vascular constriction, both of which can be a concern for individuals with heart disease or peripheral vascular disease, however from my reading of the literature, in general the relatively low levels of nicotine obtained from NRT don’t appear to significantly increase risk for cardiovascular events or wound healing.


Is long term use of nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, gum and patches) harmful to your health?

Shellie Boudreau has answered Near Certain

An expert from Aalborg University in Neuroscience, Health, Motor Learning, Musculoskeletal Science, Communications Technology

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and in its pure form can be lethal if too much is ingested. Nicotine replacement therapies, such as sprays, gum or patches aim to reduce the addictive properties by slowly releasing smaller doses of nicotine into the bloodstream. The amount released in nicotine replacement products is much less than a traditional cigarette. By way of the lungs, nicotine reaches the brain within the first minute when inhaled whereas replacement therapies take a longer time (e.g. 10 to 20 min). Indeed, the slower release helps curb the craving and does offer health benefits over the fast acting vapor or inhaled forms. However, application of nicotine to the oral tissues or small amounts has consequences. Swallowing small amounts of nicotine by way of chewing gum or tablets can lead to irritation of the mouth, throat and digestion system. Research shows that long-term exposure to nicotine can alter our sense of temperature in the mouth ( Nicotine is a known irritant and when applied to the tongue, for example, can cause a burning sensation similar to a chili pepper. This is why many nicotine replacement products add cooling agents (i.e. menthol). Additionally, nicotine alters heart rate activity in ways we are only beginning to understand. It is well-established that cigarettes are a poor health choice due to the many additives however much less is known about nicotine exposure itself; especially when someone is exposed for long periods of time and repeatedly. In this case, one should rely on science to estimate the exact risks but until then a little common sense goes a long way. One only has to ask, why would you repeatedly expose yourself to a lethal and burning substance for a very long time?

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