E-cigarettes and vapes have the tendency to be viewed as a safer alternative to smoking. The fact of the matter is, they haven’t been around long enough for us to know the extent of harm that is caused by constantly breathing water vapor into your lungs. Not only that, but there are many artificial flavors used in e-liquid that can be harmful to your health.
1. Increased Risk of Heart Disease
E-liquids contain a cocktail of ingredients including nicotine, flavorings, and other lab ingredients. According to Healthline, a review was done that pointed out that “e-liquid aerosols contain particulates, oxidizing agents, aldehydes, and nicotine.” When these aerosols are inhaled, they are likely to affect the heart and circulatory system. Preliminary research supports this theory with a 2019 study finding that e-cigarette use was associated with an increased risk of angina, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
2. Developing Popcorn Lung
Probably the most well-known effect from vaping is the infamous “popcorn lung.” Characterized by damaged airways in the lungs, this can lead to chronic coughing and shortness of breath. Popcorn lung earned its name because people working in microwave popcorn factories developed this condition after breathing in diacetyl – the chemical that gives popcorn its buttery flavor – for long periods of time.
Popcorn manufacturers eventually eliminated the use of diacetyl in their products. Unfortunately, diacetyl is often used in e-liquid and poses the same risks to those who inhale it through vaping. In a recent Juul class action lawsuit, the presence of diacetyl was a point of concern for many. Though there hasn’t been a causal link between popcorn lung and Juul specifically, more than 200 cases of popcorn are suspected to be directly associated with vaping.
3. Inhaling Toxic Chemicals and Heavy Metals
Included in the Juul class action lawsuit were the findings of a 2019 case report that found the nicotine and flavor chemical content of Juul pods were toxic to cells in lab tests. Juul is not the only company responsible for putting potentially toxic chemicals into their products though. Other flavorings and chemicals can potentially emit toxic vapors when inhaled.
Aside from questionable contents, there have also been studies done that show heavy metal particles travel into the users’ lungs. When a user inhales the vape, a coil inside heats up and vaporizes the e-liquid inside. These heavy metals in the coils are not completely filtered out and remnants make their way to the vaper’s lungs.
More and more research findings support the idea that e-cigarettes and vapes are not much safer than smoking. More research will need to be conducted to fully understand the risks associated with vaping and e-cigarettes.
Image credit: Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash