By Cheryl Steinberg
I know a lot of people who are into the vaping scene and therefore, I know a lot of people aren’t going to be happy to hear that e-cigarettes and vapes are not without health risk.
Touted as a ‘healthy alternative’ to traditional combustible cigarettes, electronic vaporizers caught on like wildfire. But, it’s too soon to say just how much better – if at all – vapes are when compared to their old-school smokable version.
A new risk assessment report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health says that there are health risks associated with vapes, and not just for those who partake in vaping; bystanders – much like those who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke – may be at risk from secondhand vape smoke.
Now, just to be clear, what we’re talking about in this article are the vapes and e-cigs that contain nicotine, like cigarettes. The report has only considered e-cigarettes with nicotine since there has been very little research about nicotine-free e-cigs. But the report was clear in its conclusions that e-cigarettes are not without health risks for people who vape or for bystanders.
Vapers: You Might Be Fooling Yourselves
Because vapes and e-cigarettes deliver the same amount of nicotine to users as cigarettes do to smokers, it’s safe to say that the same harmful effects from nicotine can be expected in people who vape.
Furthermore, the vapor from e-cigs and vaporizers contains so much nicotine that people who are nearby can also inhale the same amount as with secondhand tobacco smoke. This can be a trigger for addiction to nicotine.
As far as we know, however, e-cigs are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with regards to cancer but the health risks of long-term use of vapes and e-cigs use are unknown.
“In Norway, it is mainly smokers and former smokers who use e-cigarettes. The question is if this will still be the case if e-cigarettes become more accessible. It is important to avoid e-cigarettes becoming a trend among adolescents and young adults, or to introduce non-smokers to nicotine addiction and tobacco use,” says Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director-General at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).
Caveats of the Research
- Admittedly, e-cigs and vapes simply have not been around long enough in order for researchers to really get a good idea on the potential risks and the extent to which these risks can go.
- The NIPH’s risk assessment is mainly based on evaluation of the individual components of e-cigarettes. There is a wide range of e-cigarette types, with varying content of nicotine and other ingredients.
- Differing types and usage patterns will influence potential health damage. If e-cigarettes are allowed to be sold in Norway, their use and possible adverse effects should be monitored by research.
Banning Vaping in Public
In Portland, Maine’s largest city, they’re not taking this sort of news lightly. Currently, the city is considering imposing a ban on the use of e-cigarettes and vapes in public spaces.
The Portland City Council will hold a meeting next week in order to discuss and make its consideration of whether to place e-cigarettes and other devices that allow the user to inhale vapors on its list of tobacco products that are banned in public areas.
Last month, the city’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported the ban.
There have been some recent stories discussing the concern of the unknown risks of vape smoke and, perhaps as a safeguard to those who choose not to vape – just like with traditional smokers and non-smokers – towns and cities have begun to consider bans on public vaping.
In fact, dozens of places have established restrictions on e-cigarettes and vaping in public and The World Health Organization issued a report calling for restrictions on the indoor use of e-cigs and vapes.
Electronic cigarettes and vapes can be a pathway to breaking the chains of your nicotine addiction. However, there’s still some debate whether they serve more as a tool for those who are already addicted to cigarettes or as products that could undermine efforts to discourage tobacco use. If you abuse other substances, we can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and get on the road to recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Electronic cigarettes and vapes are a booming business and a fast-growing trend, having become a $2 billion per year industry since 2007. The main selling point of electronic smoking devices is that they are a safer alternative to traditional smoking. Now, that may be true but, only to the extent that getting hit in the head with a baseball bat is safer than being thrown off of a building; it doesn’t mean that e-cigs are actually safe.
There has already been some debate and preliminary research as to just how “safe” the ingredients, namely glycerin oil and formaldehyde, are given that the user inhales these through a device that heats the oil to an extreme temperature. In fact, more and more the use of vapes and e-cigs inside buildings and public spaces are being banned – an indication that there is concern of harms from second-hand smoke, just like with traditional cigarettes.
More Bad News for People Who Vape
Now, a new paper published in PLOS ONE by lead author Thomas Sussan from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that mice that were exposed to e-cig vapor had weaker immune systems than those mice that were not exposed to it.
“Our findings suggest that e-cigarettes are not neutral in terms of the effects on the lungs,” senior author Shyam Biswal said in a press release. “We have observed that they increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections in the mouse models. This warrants further study in susceptible individuals, such as COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] patients who have switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes or to new users of e-cigarettes who may have never used cigarettes.”
The study looked at two groups of mice: one group was exposed to vapor from electronic cigarettes for two weeks, and the other breathed only fresh air. Next, each group – the vape-exposed one and the fresh air one – was separated into subgroups. The first group was exposed to Influenza A, the next was exposed to the pneumonia-causing bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, and the third group was not given any illness-causing microbes.
The mice that had been exposed to the vapor from the e-cigs had infections that were much more severe than the mice from the fresh air-breathing group, indicating a weakened immune response. For some of the mice, these infections were fatal. Further investigation into the mice revealed physiological changes that had taken place in them.
“E-cigarette vapor alone produced mild effects on the lungs, including inflammation and protein damage,” Sussan explained. “However, when this exposure was followed by a bacterial or viral infection, the harmful effects of e-cigarette exposure became even more pronounced. The e-cigarette exposure inhibited the ability of mice to clear the bacteria from their lungs, and the viral infection led to increased weight loss and death indicative of an impaired immune response.”
Sussan added, “We were surprised by how high that number was, considering that e-cigarettes do not produce combustion products. Granted, it’s 100 times lower than cigarette smoke, but it’s still a high number of free radicals that can potentially damage cells.”
Free radicals in the body can alter DNA and have cancer-causing effects. With ordinary cigarettes, the smoker inhales toxins (400 to be exact, with 60 of those being known carcinogens), whereas electronic cigarettes produce a nicotine aerosol vapor that is inhaled by users. As for the lack of burning that takes place with traditional cigarettes, which can prevent some chemicals from being released, there are still a number of free radicals being introduced into the body via e-cigs and vapes.
Obviously, more study is needed on this subject in order to fully understand the effect of e-cigarettes on the user’s health as well as those who are exposed to second-hand vapor, and how it could contribute to disease. E-cigs and vapes hit the market about seven years ago, quickly becoming popular people wanting to quit smoking as well as with former smokers of traditional cigarettes. In 2013, it was reported that more teenagers had tried e-cigarettes than had tried traditional cigarettes, making it incredibly important to know what the real risks are, especially to young users.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is just a phone call away. We have Addiction Specialists available 24/7 to answer your questions, share resources, and get you pointed in the right direction. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today.
Vaping has become quite the popular trend and many believe it is a safe and healthy alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. As more and more comes to light about e-cigs and how they work, however, there are some important things to consider.
Well, there’s more possible bad news for vapers.
Many people point to all the harmful chemical additives in cigarettes (nearly 600 additives, 69 of which are known to cause cancer) and claim that e-cigs and vapes don’t have them, making them safer. However, when it comes to electronic cigarettes, a battery-powered device heats a liquid solution (e-liquid) of nicotine and various flavors, creating an aerosol. This is inhaled to simulate the physical sensation of smoking hence the term “vaping.”
We’ve written about potential dangers associated with vaping, specifically regarding the glycerin and propylene glycol that are used as solvents in the e-liquid and how they are converted to carbonyls, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in embalming fluid, building materials and some medicines and cosmetics. It can also be produced as a byproduct of cooking and smoking. Formaldehyde is a known cancer-causing agent in humans (and rats) and is found in cigarette smoke. But, it’s also found in the vaporized liquid of the ever-more popular electronic cigarette.
According to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the exposure to formaldehyde from e-cigarettes, when based on similar chronic use as regular tobacco cigarettes, could be five to 15 times higher than from smoking cigarettes. Yikes!
The problem with arriving at any definitive answer as to just how detrimental vapes are to the health of the user, is that any such evidence won’t show up until years from now.
“It’s way too early now from an epidemiological point of view to say how bad they are,” said co-author James F. Pankow, professor of chemistry and engineering at Portland State University in Oregon. “But the bottom line is, there are toxins and some are more than in regular cigarettes. And if you are vaping, you probably shouldn’t be using it at a high-voltage setting.”
Pankow adds, “A lot of people make the assumption that e-cigarettes are safe and they are perfectly fine after using for a year. The hazards of e-cigarettes, if there are any, will be seen 10 to 15 years from now when they start to appear in chronic users.”
Pankow and his colleagues analyzed the aerosol e-liquid in what’s known as “tank system” e-cigarettes in order to look for formaldehyde-releasing agents in “hidden” form at various voltages.
The findings should concern those who regularly use these vapes. Researchers found that vaping 3 milligrams of e-cigarette liquid at a high voltage can generate 14 milligrams of “hidden” formaldehyde. Furthermore, the researchers estimated a traditional cigarette smoker gets 0.15 milligrams of formaldehyde per cigarette, or 3 milligrams in a 20-pack.
And this “may be conservative,” says Pankow.
“We are not saying e-cigarettes are more hazardous than cigarettes,” he said. “We are only looking at one chemical. … The jury is really out on how safe these drugs are.”
“The difference in e-cigarettes is the material that is heated and turns into hot gas as it cools is not tobacco, but two main chemicals,” he said. “When it gets really hot, unwanted reactions occur.”
Therefore, formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds can be released during the “vaping” process as the liquid is heated. Pankow said some e-cigarettes can burn hotter than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
What’s troubling is there already exists some evidence that shows just how bad formaldehyde is: when gaseous formaldehyde, found in funeral homes and other occupational settings, is inhaled, it breaks down in the mouth, nose, throat, and airways. Exposure has been linked to throat and nasal cancers and leukemias. This is supported by findings used by the American Cancer Society, which says that exposure to formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and has also been linked to some cancers in humans.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist, who understands your situation. We are available day and night to answer your questions and to help you figure out what steps to take next. Recovery is possible.
Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke that comes off the end of a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke that is exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS. Exposure to secondhand smoke is sometimes called involuntary or passive smoking. Secondhand smoke may seem like it isn’t a big deal but it actually has more than 4,000 different substances, many of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals. In fact secondhand smoke contains more than 250 chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.
Secondhand smoke poses threats to adults who don’t smoke and secondhand smoke has serious health effects on children. Children that are around high amounts of secondhand smoke, like those who have mothers or fathers that smoke, they have the highest risk of experiencing damaging health effects.
Children are more vulnerable to secondhand smoke because…
- they are still growing and developing
- have higher breathing rates in comparison to adults
- and have no control over their indoor environment or where they live.
So what are some of secondhand smoke’s effects on children?
- Well, for one second hand smoke can cause asthma in children who don’t already have symptoms of it.
- Secondhand smoke can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Secondhand smoke can cause infants and children younger than six years old who are regularly exposed to it to be at an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections including pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Children who are around secondhand smoke regularly are also at an increased risk for middle ear infections.
- Secondhand smoke exposure causes respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheeze, and breathlessness, among school-aged children.
- Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which increases the risk for many health problems.
Secondhand smoke has even more effects on children who already have asthma. For instance secondhand smoke affects children with asthma by triggering asthma attacks and making asthma symptoms much more severe. Not only can it do that but secondhand smoke cause new cases of asthma in children who didn’t have it.
Here are some statistics according to the surgeon general about secondhand smoke and its effects on children:
- On average, children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than nonsmoking adults.
- Based on levels of cotinine (a biological marker of secondhand smoke exposure), an estimated 22 million children aged 3-11 years and 18 million youth aged 12-19 years, were exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States in 2000.
- Children aged 3-11 years and youth aged 12-19 years are significantly more likely than adults to live in a household with at least one smoker.
- Children aged 3-11 years have cotinine levels more than twice as high as nonsmoking adults.
- Children who live in homes where smoking is allowed have higher cotinine levels than children who live in homes where smoking is not allowed.
If your loved one is in need of treatment for alchol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.