Gone are the days when it was cool for teenagers to sneak out to puff a cigarette at least the real tobacco ones. Now, millions of Americans choose to vape. According to data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, there was a 78% increase in the number of high schoolers using e-cigarettes from 2017 to 2018. This dramatic increase is a testament to how popular vaping is especially with young people.
Vaping is a general term that refers to inhaling vapor using an electronic device such as vape pens or prefilled vaping cartridges. The device typically has a heating element that vaporizes the liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. Initially, vaping was marketed as a “healthier” alternative to tobacco smoking. Because of this many people have the misconception that vaping products do not contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance. In reality, however, vaping products – including the popular JUUL brand, do contain nicotine.
With so many Americans now hooked on vaping, it is just normal to wonder what risks are associated with this habit. It is a proven fact that smoking tobacco cigarettes can cause cancer, so one question that is often in the minds of people who vape is whether vaping also causes cancer. Is vaping really a safer choice?
How is vaping linked to cancer?
Unlike studies related to tobacco smoking, the research available on vaping is not that extensive. Because vaping is relatively new, there is also no evidence at this time that vaping actually causes lung cancer in humans.
In 2019, however, there was a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that showed a link between e-cigarette use and cancer in mice. The study was conducted by researchers from the NYU School of Medicine and it was funded by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
The NYU study found that there was an increased risk of developing lung cancer and precancerous changes in the bladder in the mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor containing nicotine. According to the study, while the results cannot predict the vapor’s effect on people, there should be further research on the toxicity of e-cigarettes before they are marketed as healthier alternatives.
The dangers of vaping
While there is no conclusive study that links cancer in humans to vaping, it is important to recognize that vaping does not come without risks. There are concrete dangers associated with vaping that you should be aware of. It would also be useful for parents to know about these risks so they can provide advice to their children who may not know that vaping is not absolutely safe.
Since nicotine is an addictive substance, it is not impossible for a person to be addicted to vaping. With young people, this can be more harmful because their brains are still developing which could make it faster for them to get addicted.
One notable factor that could contribute to vaping addiction is the ease of use afforded by vaping devices. Unlike traditional tobacco cigarettes, vaping devices can easily be hidden as they can resemble pens or slim USB devices. This could make it harder for schools and parents to detect vaping devices.
Another contributing factor is that vaping products can come in more flavors like fruity or sweet flavors. These flavors make them more attractive to teens who may not like the taste and smell of tobacco.
Gateway to Other Drugs
Vaping devices are now being used to vape other more potent substances including weed, THC (the mind-altering compound of cannabis), LSD, GMB, ketamine, etc. People who are hooked on vaping, especially teens looking to experiment, may start with nicotine vape products but could eventually try to vape other substances.
According to one study, using e-cigarettes can increase the odds of asthma. The study found that e-cigarette use is associated with 39% higher odds of self-reported asthma compared to users who have never smoked e-cigarettes.
In 2019, there was a national EVALI outbreak – short for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury. At first, the specific cause of the outbreak was unknown but most of the patients reported vaping THC-filled cartridges.
Later findings showed that the outbreak was caused by the presence of an additive called Vitamin E acetate present in THC-containing vaping products. The CDC recommends that people should not use vaping products from informal sources like buying from the streets or online because these vaping products may contain unknown chemicals that could be toxic.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.