If you’ve turned on the news recently, you’ve heard some scary reports about vaping. Vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, has led to serious illness and hospitalizations across the country. Just how dangerous is it?
The real fact of the matter is that no one really knows for sure. And that should alarm you more than anything.
While we know for certain the dangers of smoking cigarettes, there are still many uncertainties surrounding the use of e-cigarettes. The reason? They haven’t been around long enough for their usage to be studied.
But the recent jump in vaping-related hospitalizations is definite cause for alarm. Let’s break down what we know about vaping:
Vaping is linked with serious illness.
More than 500 cases of lung-related illness, as well as eight deaths so far, have been confirmed as related to vaping. That’s why public health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are now calling for people to stop using e-cigarettes until the link to vaping is researched thoroughly and the illness outbreak is better understood.
Vaping had previously been tied to respiratory illness.
Even before the recent outbreak of illness, researchers had confirmed that vaping was tied to illness affecting the respiratory system. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that e-cigarette cartridges contain diacetyl, a flavoring chemical linked to severe respiratory disease. In fact, there’s a connection between inhaling this chemical and the condition that’s referenced as “popcorn lung.” E-cigarettes have also been tied with allergy and asthma flare-ups.
Vaping exposes you to an addictive substance.
While you aren’t exposed to some of the negatives of smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes still expose you to nicotine, which is highly addictive. One cartridge of the popular JUUL brand of e-cigarettes contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
Vaping is a gateway to the use of cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are marketed as a “healthier” alternative, but they’re often just a stepping stone to cigarettes for kids. In fact, a study of high school seniors found that those who vaped were more likely to be smoking cigarettes within one year than those who did not. Those teens, in turn, are much more likely to be smokers as adults, meaning their lifelong health is impacted.
Vaping releases more than just harmless “vapor.”
Many users of e-cigarettes and manufacturers like to claim that the vapor released while vaping is simply water. That is not the case. It’s actually aerosol—and the mixture also contains nicotine, particles, and potentially cancerous toxins. This includes propylene glycol, often used as antifreeze. These chemicals come in contact with your mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach, along with your lungs.
Vaping is a cause of indoor air pollution.
Most people assume e-cigarettes don’t pollute the air around them. In fact, there is a risk of secondhand smoking from e-cigarette use. Ultrafine particles and chemicals are released into the air, where they can be inhaled by others present in the space—and even absorbed through the skin. That can be extremely dangerous and even lethal for small children.
Vaping: The Bottom Line.
So, with all of this data in front of us, what’s the main takeaway here?
It’s simple—vaping is dangerous and linked with serious health issues. We know that. We just don’t know the extent of its dangers quite yet.
If you’re using e-cigarettes, stop. And definitely don’t turn to cigarette use as an alternative, either. Talk with your doctor about healthier coping mechanisms.