Vaping is something that has grown in popularity in recent years. Rarely is someone not to be found inflating their little vaping device. It is regularly touted as a "safe" and "healthy" way of smoking.
But surely inhaling all the smoke can't be good right? Turns out, science definitely thinks so, and vaping may not be as safe as many people seem to believe. In fact, it can have severe long-term effects on your health.
RESEARCHERS REVEAL WHAT CAUSES BRAIN VAPE AND HOW IT DAMAGES THE LUNG
- WHAT IS VAPING?
Vaping is the act of "smoking" through the use of electronic cigarettes. They usually consist of a type of liquid known as an e-liquid, which is used to create the flavor of the cigarette. These liquid cartridges can then be refilled or discarded and replaced, depending on the type.
E-cigarettes are activated through the use of a rechargeable battery that, when lit, activates a heating system within the product that turns the liquid inside into vapor. Then a user will inhale that "smoke" through a mouthpiece at the top.
Electronic cigarettes come in countless different forms. Some mimic the look of the tobacco products on which they are based, such as cigars and cigarettes. Others look less visible, appearing like pens or even disk drives. They go by many other names, including:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products. However, it should be noted that there is no tobacco content within any vape system, hence its appeal to the population.
THE POPULARITY OF VAPING
In fact, vaping has gained millions of followers around the world since its inception in 2004, where it first appeared in China. Now, years later, countless people are using them - roughly 3.2% of American adults in 2016.
It seems like a small number, but vapes are also becoming increasingly popular with teens and high school students. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, the use of juuls among high school students skyrocketed by 900%. The number of young people, attending middle or high school, who have tried Vape pens, totaled two million in 2016 alone.
While many adults vape to overcome dangerous smoking addictions, many of the younger adults up to age 24 have never smoked before trying an e-cigarette - about 40% of them, to be exact.
The act of vaping not to aid addiction recovery, but for the simple sake of doing it, is becoming increasingly concerning as science reveals negative links between health and vaping.
- UNDERSTANDING E-LIQUID VAPOR AND ITS HAZARDS
When you think of the word "steam," it's easy to brush it off, as it sounds like water. But this is far from the case, and it is this vapor that "smokers" inhale every time they use an e-cigarette.
These are some of the components found within the e-liquid that are less positive for the body: (1)
You may know that nicotine is the substance in cigarettes that makes them addictive. The content may be a bit lower, but it's still easy to get hooked. This means that vaping can be as addictive as smoking, and nicotine is especially damaging to teenagers' mental development.
While this makes vapes great for those looking for a safer alternative to their smoking addiction, it also means that people who have never smoked before can end up addicted to vaping. So if you've never smoked but are curious about vapes, this is your warning not to start.
On top of that, if you are looking to quit smoking through vape use, there is a much lower chance that you will quit altogether. Those who have never smoked cigarettes before are also more likely to start if they start vaping.
VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
Volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, are responsible for many health problems. They irritate your nose, eyes, and throat and put you at risk for nervous system damage. It can also lead to kidney disease, liver disease, and side effects like nausea and headaches.
GLYCOL OR GLYCERIN
To make the vapor thick, special chemicals must be added to the e-liquid. (Just compare the smoke from a vape pen to the much thinner smoke that comes out of a cigarette.)
To create this effect, e-liquid contains vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol or, in some cases, both! These components can cause irritation of the respiratory tract, including the lungs, and lead to coughing and possible infections.
This preservative is often found in certain e-cig brands, including the famous JUUL brand. Benzoic acid can work well to preserve a product, but it also has links to a variety of troublesome health problems, such as hyperactivity and asthma. It can also end with skin and eye irritation, nausea and vomiting, throat problems, and abdominal pain.
Most people already know how dangerous it can be to breathe in formaldehyde. It's not in e-liquids to begin with, but when a vape pen overheats it can release this substance.
This can also happen when there is enough e-liquid left, causing a “dry puff”. Formaldehyde is known to increase the risk of cancer.
According to a recent study, heavy metals were found in certain e-liquid vapors in toxic amounts. Heavy metals in toxic amounts are linked to liver disease and also lung cancer, both of which arise when inhaling them.
Many of the flavors contain interesting flavors that make them more user-friendly. This is what makes them so popular, especially among younger people. Unfortunately, these flavor chemicals are not regulated, and some can be significantly toxic.
One of these flavors is the type that contains diacetyl, which has been shown to be linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a type of lung disease. Diacetyl is most commonly found in butter-flavored popcorn and juices.
There are other flavors that are dangerous too, so don't avoid the likes of popcorn while looking at others with positive thoughts! Fruity-flavored e-cigarettes tend to be high in acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is a known carcinogen. (two)
Cinnamon flavored products are also dangerous due to their cinnamaldehyde content. The same goes for honey flavors, known as pentanedione, and vanilla flavors, known as O-vanillin. All of these flavoring chemicals can negatively affect white blood cells.
But that is not all. According to the study, alcohol, strawberry, and coffee juices are also bad for you because they are significantly dangerous for the cells in your lungs.
There is a possibility that in the future the FDA will begin to regulate the types of chemicals used in e-cigarettes. For now, however, there is nothing stopping manufacturers from using chemicals that may be harmful in the long run, and many do not disclose the full list of chemicals they use.
- THE OTHER SIDE OF VAPING
To some extent, these findings have been taken out of context and used to spread terrifying misinformation. It is crucial that these misunderstandings are cleared up to prevent further dissemination of incorrect, scientifically unproven facts.
Much of the information that is currently being released involves lung cancer, but studies have explicitly found that vaping does not actually lead to an increased risk of lung cancer. In fact, most vapers use it as a method to help them quit smoking, a method that has had positive effects and has been effective for many. (3)
Additionally, the most famous study linking cancer to vaping was primarily tested on mice, and they used an extremely high concentration of the e-liquid's components, a concentration that you would never find if you were actually vaping.
That said, this is not to say that vaping cannot cause cancer at all. After all, it is a relatively new phenomenon and it is impossible to see its effects until the young population that uses it ages. As such, only time will tell how dangerous vaping can be.
VAPOR AS AN ALTERNATIVE WHEN SMOKING
Clearly vaping is not a healthy habit due to all the chemicals it contains. It can definitely cause harm to non-smokers who take the habit. However, it has proven to be a good option for smokers looking to quit their smoking habit. This is because:
Juuls and e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, which is what causes cancer. Studies indicate that vaping helps smokers quit tobacco.
There is a reasonable amount of nicotine in food that helps smokers satisfy cravings in a healthier way.
Evidence suggests that secondhand vaping, or inhaling the “smoke” from someone's e-cigarette or e-cigarette, is not dangerous.
Once again, we would like to emphasize that this information applies specifically to those who are already smoking cigarettes. If you've never smoked before, vaping increases your risk of illness due to the addictive nicotine and added chemicals. However, this risk is low compared to real cigarettes.
HOW VAPING CAN CAUSE BRAIN AND LUNG DAMAGE
Is vaping dangerous? Current research is not enough to tell us for sure, but we do know one thing: it is less dangerous than cigarettes. Unfortunately, that's not a very uplifting idea to begin with.
Due to the early days of research surrounding juuls in all its forms, we are beginning to see that there are harms that can arise from regular vaping, especially if you have never smoked before. The chemicals contained in many e-liquid brands are definitely not a joke, and many are notoriously toxic.
Is there a chance that vaping products will be regulated by the FDA in the future, which will allow for “safer” vapes? Possibly. But until then, if you are not a smoker, it is best to avoid this new trend. It may be a lesser evil when it comes to vices, but it's still a vice and a vape addiction, it's an addiction.