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What is Vaping and Its Health Risks?

The Center on Addiction defines vaping as “the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.”

While the act of vaping isn’t new since its gain in popularity among the mainstream market in 2007, it has grown once again in traction with the release of Juuls – a new type of e-cigarette that uses oil containing tobacco. Each refillable cartridge roughly parallels to a pack of cigarettes, and with a sleek design that is less toxic compared to combustible tobacco products, according to the Truth Initiative. Because of these reasons, e-cigarettes are gaining attraction among youth and are showing an increase in the likelihood of young people turning to cigarettes.

Even though some avid smokers have switched to vaping as a way to quit their cigarette usage, vaping is not authorized by the FDA as a smoking cessation aid. There are stories of success in this area, but there are no current studies and cases completed that confirm these rumors. Verified ways of quitting smoking include behavioral therapy, which can be individual counseling; nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine patches or nicotine gum; or the use of medications that reduce the urge to smoke, such as varenicline or bupropion.

In addition to acting as a gateway to the use of other tobacco products, here are some other serious health risks tied to vaping.

Vaping Linked to Lung Disease

By August in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered lung disease developed in almost 200 e-cigarette users across 22 states in the U.S. While experts cannot be 100 percent certain vaping led to this health concern, they believe the culprit is a contaminant tied to chemical irritation or reactions. Some of the symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and vomiting.

Higher Risk of Heart Disease

According to the American College of Cardiology (ACC), research shows that adults who report the usage of e-cigarettes are significantly more likely to experience a heart attack or have coronary artery disease. This is in comparison to those who do not vape or utilize any tobacco products. Mohinder Vindhyal M.D. who is the assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita and the study’s lead author said, “Until now, little has been known about cardiovascular events relative to e-cigarette use. These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”

Agent to Depression and Anxiety

Also, according to the ACC, those who use e-cigarettes are 55 percent more likely to suffer from depression or bouts of anxiety, which equates to nearly 900,000 U.S. adults. In the event of quitting nicotine, smokers will also experience an increase of depression and anxiety, doubled onto what they were experiencing prior.

Increased Risk of Cancer

Experts are still working to determine whether or not e-cigarettes lead to cancer. However, it must be noted that the aerosol from an e-cigarette contains some cancer-causing chemicals. Formaldehyde found in some brands – in addition to building and construction materials – that are carcinogens.

Possibility of Nicotine Poisoning

There have been reported cases of accidental exposure to e-cigarette liquid leading to nicotine poisoning. Vaping and liquid nicotine are the leading forms of nicotine poisoning in adults and children, according to Medical News Today. Children and adults have been affected by this harmful risk component. Symptoms include excessive oral saliva, nausea, stomach aches, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, headache, tremors, anxiety, confusion, sweating, cough, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and more.

Harm to Children and Babies

Even though vaping is less dangerous than smoking cigarettes, the oil used in e-cigarettes still contains nicotine that has proven to harm brain development in children and affects their memory and attention after exposure. Pregnant women should never consume or use any medium with nicotine for its damage to unborn babies.  

Chance of Death

The CDC reports that of the almost 1,500 people who have experienced lung disease due to the possibility of vaping, at least 33 of those cases have ended in death. Many of the studies focusing on the dangers of death pertaining to e-cigarettes are still new and developing, yet numbers continue to climb.

If you or someone you know is in need of help with quitting a nicotine addiction, call smokefree.gov at (800) 784-8669, or chat with a specialist at livehelp.cancer.gov.

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