When e-cigarettes first entered the market in 2007, they promised to help people quit smoking. Now they are used by millions of users. Users breathe in an aerosol produced by these devices after heating a liquid. The liquid contains chemicals and toxins such as acetone (found in nail polish remover), acrolein (used in bug spray and weed killer) and formaldehyde. It also contains nicotine and heavy metals such as chromium, nickel and tin.
What is Vaping?
Electronic cigarettes and other vaping tools heat a liquid solution to produce an aerosol that may be inhaled. The liquid typically contains nicotine, which is addictive and can cause health problems if used long-term. Researchers have discovered that the vapor from e-cigarettes includes hazardous substances, including formaldehyde and acrolein, that can harm lung tissue. Flavoring chemicals such as diacetyl, linked to a serious lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, are also present in some vapors. Additionally, the devices used for vaping can release dangerous heavy metals if they overheat or if not enough liquid is fed to the heating element.
Despite these risks, vaping is still popular among teens. In a 2018 study, 85 percent of high and middle school students reported using vapor products. They say doing so for various reasons, including avoiding smoking tobacco cigarettes. While it may be too soon to draw a clear connection between vaping and cancer, many experts believe it will increase the risk of other diseases. Teens who begin vaping are likelier to start smoking cigarettes and are more susceptible to mood disorders, memory issues, and behavioral issues. Since vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, it will take decades to determine its long-term effects on the human body. For now, it is important to talk with your teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes and how to quit the habit.
What are The Risks of Vaping?
While the number of smokers continues to decline, e-cigarette use is increasing among young people. So does vaping cause cancer? Your risk of cancer may rise because of the toxic metals in vapes. It also poses risks to the lungs and other organs. Nicotine is found in almost all e-cigarettes and is highly addictive. It can also harm adolescent brain development, particularly in areas that control learning, attention and mood. It’s also been linked to the future uptake of combustible tobacco products. Studies suggest that the aerosol from e-cigarettes may contain harmful chemicals and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled into the lungs and other parts of the body. These particles can irritate the lung tissue, causing nausea, vomiting, mouth and throat irritation and chest pain. A dangerous lung condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung) has been related to the chemical diacetyl in several vape juice flavors. It causes scarring and narrowing of tiny lung passageways.
Researchers have found that different e-cigarette flavors may be more or less toxic. One study found that cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon flavor), o-vanillin (vanilla flavor) and pentanedione (honey flavor) had the greatest impact on white blood cells, making them less effective at fighting infection and other diseases. Another study conducted in mice found that nicotine increased the number of dormant cancer cells in their lungs. However, more research is needed to understand whether this finding will apply to humans.
What are The Symptoms of Vaping?
Unlike traditional cigarettes, which contain thousands of carcinogenic compounds, vapes don’t contain harmful tar. But they contain other toxic chemicals that can cause lung and heart problems.
The devices use heat to transform a liquid into an aerosol form that you can inhale. That liquid can include glycerin and glycol, upper airway irritants that can dry your throat and mouth. You may also develop a persistent cough. Some vapes also contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical that can trigger withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and lack of concentration. The long-term repercussions of vaping are now starting to be fully understood by researchers. Until they have more data, it’s too soon to tell whether the increased risk of cancer and other diseases is caused by vaping or by continuing to smoke tobacco.
But some short-term effects of vaping have been reported, such as a lung condition. It was first identified in late 2019 and early 2020 when it affected dozens of people hospitalized with respiratory distress, including lung inflammation, coughing and shortness of breath. Vitamin E acetate, a compound used as a thickener and flavor enhancer in some vape products, is thought to be the cause of this outbreak. It is similar to lipoid pneumonia, often associated with cigarette smoking.
What are The Treatment Options For Vaping?
While vaping is frequently seen as a better alternative to smoking, risks remain. Inhaling e-cigarette vapor can cause lung irritation and interfere with immune-boosting white blood cells. It can lead to chronic inflammation, opening the door for cancer to develop. Researchers have found many popular fruity flavors contain cancer-causing chemicals inhaled deep into the lungs. They’re also concerned that teenagers using e-cigarettes may be poisoning themselves with these chemicals, especially those who smoke tobacco alongside their vapor.
Other studies have linked e-cigarettes to a serious lung condition known as “popcorn lung.” The illness, officially called bronchiolitis obliterans, is caused by damage to the tiny air passageways in the lungs. It first appeared in people who worked in microwave popcorn factories and was later linked to a chemical called diacetyl, which is used to simulate butter flavor in some flavored e-cigarettes. The condition can also lead to primary spontaneous pneumothorax when a lung collapses and leaks oxygen through a hole in the body. The best way to prevent these problems is to stop vaping, which can be difficult. If you’re having trouble quitting, talk to your doctor or a counselor about what resources are available. It’s also important to surround yourself with non-smoking friends and family to help you avoid temptation and make sure you plan to deal with life’s triggers that could prompt you to start smoking again.