E-cigarettes may seem like a harmless solution to quitting smoking. But, these devices can also damage the lungs and heart. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day (May 31), we tell you about the health risks of vaping.
Smoking is one of the main risk factors for cancer. According to the World Health Organization, more than 8 million tobacco-related deaths are recorded each year, of which 1.2 million are passive smokers or people exposed to secondhand smoke.
The danger of smoking makes more and more people try to quit. Electronic cigarettes have become one of the most recurrent alternatives to achieve this. The simplicity, comfort, and taste have triggered the use of these devices.
However, inhaling the aerosol released from these cigarettes (even if they do not contain nicotine ) is not as healthy as it may seem. Knowing the disadvantages of these devices is essential to decide if they are the best option for quitting smoking.
What is vaping or vaping?
Vaping or vaping consists of inhaling the vapor created by an electronic cigarette.
According to the US Department of Health, electronic cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol or mixture of small particles in the air.
These cigarettes (vaporizers or vaping devices) come in different shapes and sizes. Many look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, but can also resemble a pen or USB.
Is vaping without nicotine really bad?
Although electronic cigarette does not use traditional nicotine, the aerosol that comes out of it is not harmless water vapor.
Most contain nicotine, heavy metals like nickel, flavorings, and other addictive substances that can irritate the lungs and airways and cause illness.
Perhaps for all this, its use has already been banned in public centers, schools, and hospitals, as well as in means of transport and in playgrounds.
In the European Union, only liquids with nicotine concentrations between 0 mg/ml and 20 mg/ml are allowed. Even so, there are also vaporizers that do not contain this substance, although it does not mean that they are harmless.
But nicotine-free e-cigarettes can be just as or more toxic than nicotine devices. The University of Pennsylvania found that vaping without nicotine is harmful to blood circulation and can even cause a heart attack or stroke.
“Basically we found that using e-cigarettes is not equivalent to inhaling water vapor; in fact, it can exert acute and detrimental effects on (blood vessels) even when the liquid does not contain nicotine,” said Dr. Alessandra Caporale of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
According to Caporale, the evidence is piling up from studies showing that vaping, sometimes touted as a safer alternative to smoking, is not without risk. In an earlier study, they found that vaping nicotine-free e-cigarettes increased signs of inflammation and a form of tissue damage known as oxidative stress, which returned to normal levels within one to three hours.
In the new study, the authors used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take various measurements of blood vessel function in 31 healthy adults who had never smoked, before and after taking 16 three-second puffs of an e-cigarette that Contains propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavoring but no nicotine.
After vaping, study participants showed several changes indicating that “vascular reactivity,” which is the ability of healthy blood vessels to widen when needed, was “significantly and significantly affected,” Dr. Caporale noted.
These changes were temporary, but if repeated over a long period of time they could cause inflammation and impaired blood vessel health, the researcher added. “We are far from suggesting that a single episode of vaping immediately translates into atherosclerosis.”
With funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which also supported the current research, Caporale and his team are planning a study that will look at inflammation, oxidative stress, and circulatory changes in e-cigarette users, cigarette smokers, and non-smokers over time.
Side effects of electronic cigarettes
Vaping can cause coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, and fever.
In addition to carrying risks for those who use them, vaping also affects those around us .
The chemicals contained in electronic cigarettes can cause problems of varying severity.
Cough, throat, and eye irritation
ischemic heart disease
aggravation of cystic fibrosis
Heart conditions (arrhythmias, angina, heart attack)
Vaping to quit smoking
Most people who decide to use these devices do so to cut down on tobacco use because they believe it is less harmful and cheaper.
These pseudo-advantages have triggered the use of these devices, especially among young people, despite the fact that their safety has not yet been proven.
In addition, most smokers believe that it is not an effective tool to quit smoking.
There are even those who have increased tobacco consumption by switching to electronic cigarettes, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health.
As you can see, vaping (even without nicotine) can be dangerous to your health.
The best option to quit smoking is to put yourself in the hands of a doctor, who will advise you and accompany you during the treatment.
Although their sale has not been legalized in many countries, it is more and more common to come across them: electronic cigarettes of different colors, designs, sizes, and flavors that have reached the market with the promise of being safer than smoking cigarettes and that they will help smokers to quit. However, the evidence shows something different.
Electronic cigarettes are devices that use a battery to burn a liquid (such as water, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin) that the user inhales as an aerosol.
Since this act is commonly known as “vaping” there is a misconception that what is inhaled is water vapor, when in fact aerosols usually have different toxic substances such as flavorings or heavy metals; In addition, many of them contain nicotine.
Vaping does not burn the tobacco or smoke the nicotine directly like a cigarette does, so the companies that produce and promote these products claim that e-cigarettes are potentially less harmful than smoking tobacco.
If we add to this the advantages that they do not emit odors and that they do not leave the sensation of tobacco in the mouth, the message becomes more powerful, since they are promoted as smoke-free products.