Health Risks in Vaping E-Cigarettes
UPDATED: August 21, 2019
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The full impact of an e-cigarettes flavorings, particles, metals, and components on the heart, blood vessels, lungs and brain health is only partially understood, given its relative recent emergence. Though gaps in scientific evidence exist, evidence is mounting that links them to a number of real, complicated health risks, namely lung and heart problems.
Nicotine: Though ingredients vary in the e-liquids, as well as dose levels and combinations of e-flavors, nearly all e-cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine (the same substance used in regular cigarettes). The amount of nicotine varies from brand to brand as well as from cartridge to cartridge. A single vaping cartridge can contain as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes, per the FDA.
Nicotine is harmful to pregnant woman as well as in fetal and postnatal development.
Nicotine can harm the developing brain of adolescence teens to those in the mid-20’s, leading to attention deficient disorder and poor impulse control.
According to Medical News Today, vaping and liquid nicotine can cause nicotine poisoning and potential death.
Seizures: It is not just your lungs or heart that pose concerns. A known side-effect of nicotine poisoning and swallowing nicotine liquids are convulsions or seizures. In April 2019, regulators at the FDA said that some individuals, mainly teens and young adults, have experienced seizures or convulsions after vaping liquid nicotine. Seizures were reported by individuals who were first time vapers as well as regular users. FDA health officials have also reported, though, that it is not certain vaping can trigger the seizures.
Aerosol contains other harmful substances: The vape liquids can contain up to 31 compounds, including nicotine, nicotyrine, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde glycidol, acrolein, acetol, and diacetyl, in addition to metals (i.e., lead, tin, nickel). Per the CDC, these byproducts are making their way through the user’s lungs, increasing their risk of respiratory problems. For example, diacetyl (used to flavor buttered popcorn) is linked to a serious lung disease-- bronchiolitis oblitgerans (or commonly known as Popcorn lung) – that makes it harder over time to breathe. Another substance—formaldehyde—is a known carcinogen.
Heart disease: Smoking increases the risk for heart disease, as plaque builds up in the arteries over time, reducing the blood flow to the heart and body and increasing blood pressure. A UCSF study found that daily e-cigarette use nearly doubled the odds of a heart attack. In fact, at the 2019 American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session, it was reported that e-cigarette smokers had a 56% higher risk of having a heart attack, 30% higher risk of suffering a stroke, and 10% higher risk to contract heart disease than people who didn't smoke. New research from Stanford University found evidence that popular e-cig flavorings can potentially lead to cardiovascular disease.
And even nicotine-free e-cigarettes can damage a person’s blood vessels.