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Studies on vaping are foggy at best

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

by Juli Aistars, APRN, TTS, Lung Patient Navigator at Northwest Community Healthcare

Is vaping bad for you? Why or why not?

We don’t have enough evidence to say for sure that vaping is bad for you. However, there have been studies showing heavy metals in the urine of people who vape. E-cigarettes typically contain harmful organic compounds or flavoring additives. If the e-cigarette contains nicotine, it has nicotine risks, such as addiction and adverse effects on brain development in adolescents. Adolescent users are more likely to report respiratory symptoms than non-users.

Is vaping more or less dangerous than smoking?

Because e-cigarettes use water vapor, they’re more likely to penetrate deeper into the lungs than tobacco cigarettes. 

Is vaping an epidemic?

Yes, it has been officially declared an epidemic by the Surgeon General.

What is in an e-cigarette?

Nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. 

Do e-cigarettes contain as much nicotine as cigarettes?

It depends on the product; e-cigarettes could contain more nicotine than cigarettes. It’s hard to know for sure because e-cigs are only partially regulated by the FDA.

What population is most at risk for vaping harm?

Young people stand to be the most harmed by vaping because the act of vaping makes it three times more likely that the person will use regular tobacco at some point, based on research evidence.

What does vaping do to your lungs?

Lungs are meant to inhale clean air. Some things can’t be controlled, but deliberately inhaling anything besides clean air can be harmful to the lungs and other organs.

What is the difference between vapor and smoke?

There isn’t a big difference. They both can cause harm to your health. However, a person who vapes may do it many more times per day than they would smoke, since it is not as offensive to others and can be done discreetly, depending on the brand.

How can we know if vaping is good or bad if there’s not enough research?

If we think logically, we know that vaping is not safe because nicotine and chemicals are being inhaled. Even if it contains less chemicals than smoking, it’s still not safe.

More research is showing that vaping is dangerous. One recent study showed that mice exposed to e-cigarette smoke were found to have cancer-causing DNA mutations. A National Center for Health Research article highlights some of the research done on e-cigarettes and vaping.

Does vaping damage more than just the lungs?

Yes, it can potentially damage other organs because anything inhaled into the lungs affects other organs when it is cleared from your system. 

Can and should you use e-cigs to quit smoking regular cigarettes?

It is not recommended to use e-cigs as a step down because the evidence is not strong enough to say that it is an effective quit-aid. However, if you have tried other evidence-based methods and you feel that vaping will help you quit, set a time period within which you will quit vaping, like three months after stopping smoking. Quitting tobacco is very individual, and what works for one person may not work for another.

What's the latest news on FDA vaping regulations?

In mid-May, a federal judge ordered the FDA to begin reviewing e-cigarettes, according to a CNBC report.

Does NCH help those who want to quit smoking?

Yes, NCH offers the Courage to Stay Tobacco-Free Support Group which meets every Tuesday from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. (excluding holidays) at the NCH Wellness Center. For more information about the support group, call Korene Palazzo in Cardiac Rehab at 847-618-7992.

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