Vaping – The Known and Unknown Risks of E-Cigs to Your Health
Is vaping dangerous?
At least, don’t vape if you don’t smoke, or can quit smoking cold turkey.
I am an avid member of the vaping community, I would still recommend avoiding e-cigs. Therefore, use them as a last resort only.
But what are the actual dangers of vaping?
The rest of the guide explores the detailed answer to this question.
Don’t Be Scared, Be Informed and Aware
First, the basic purpose of writing this guide is to help you make better, informed decisions. We are not trying to scare you. Yes, we will refer to some scientific studies. However, I take such studies with a grain of salt. It’s because most of them have a hidden agenda behind them supported by the sponsor.
Again, we don’t encourage you to vape. Conversely, if you do want to try it out, it’s better to know their hazards beforehand. That way, you can try and lessen them.
The Vapor Test
Try blowing vapor onto a clean, smooth surface a few times and then wipe the surface with your finger. You will see the result. Yes, all that gunk-like stuff goes into your lungs.
So, if you have decided to vape, do your due diligence. First, read articles on the internet. Second, visit vaping forums. Third, looking for latest scientific studies and research. Also, more importantly getting in touch with your doctor. This is especially if you have any underlying condition that vaping can impact.
Vaping Risks: Conflicting Studies
Scientists don’t seem to be on the same page when it comes to the dangers of vaping. For instance, there is a claims that electronic cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. This is according to an expert independent review published by the Public Health England . On the other hand, a Harvard study claims there are many dangers of vaping that make it nearly as devastating as smoking. The study showed that several flavorings tested had chemicals including pentanedione and acetone. They can be extremely dangerous for human lungs. These chemicals have the capacity to damage lungs airways. In addition, they can cause severe respiratory diseases.
But as we mentioned earlier, the sponsors of these studies can be companies that have an agenda. What’s more, some can be even misleading. For example, you can find high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in the vapor. This is according to a recent study by five scientists from Portland State University. However, when you closely look at the study, you will notice something strange. They released formaldehyde into the vapor at ridiculously high temperatures. As a matter of fact, nobody vapes at such high temperatures. It’s because you get a burnt, dry taste which every vaper hates.
We need more, better and concrete studies. Since vaping has become popular over the last eight years, or so. Also, there is no long-term data available. We don’t know how vaping will affect those who have done it for more than two decades. This is why scientists are having trouble providing answers to many questions.
Vaping and Your Heart
They have conducted many studies on determining the impact of vaping on the human heart. Vaping is nearly as hazardous as smoking for your heart. This is according to a recent study by the researchers at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome. They made a presentation at the world’s largest cardiology conference.
They conducted a study on a group of 24 volunteer smokers with an average age of 30 and they monitored the subjects when they smoked traditional tobacco cigarettes. Also when they vaped electronic cigarettes.
Here is what the researchers took into account. They wanted to see how the two different ways of getting a nicotine fix affected the heart. ” We measured aortic stiffness. If the aorta is stiff, you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes.”
The aorta is like a balloon right next to the heart. It is naturally very soft. However, when you smoke for an extended period, it gradually starts getting stiff. As a result, this makes it hard for the heart to pump blood. In fact, they consider the aorta to be the most powerful marker for estimating heart risks.
The results show that the effects of a 30-minute vaping section were the same as smoking for five minutes. The researchers also criticized the claims of Physical Health England’s argue that vaping is safer than smoking. They further said that they would never recommend anybody who wants to give up smoking to start vaping. It might not be a good a cessation technique.
While this study will surely raise some eyebrows. However, there is something interesting that the researchers did not mention. It took about six times longer for vaping to create the same impact on aorta than smoking. This is according to the results.
However, this study shows that vaping can have adverse effects on the human heart. It doesn’t matter how much we criticize it. If you have any cardiovascular condition, we highly recommend you not to vape. Consult your doctor in case you must.
It is e-liquid that goes into your lungs and can interfere with the normal functioning of your body. Therefore, it is very important to understand their composition. Moreover, you should also know how they will act once they enter your body.
You e-liquid may or may not contain nicotine which comes in a liquid (usually in PG) base. E-liquids come in different strengths of nicotine which can range anywhere between 3 mg per ml to 45 mg per ml.
Last but not least is flavoring. They are food grade flavoring agents added to give the e-juice their unique taste. E-liquids can have one or more flavorings e.g. tobacco vs. menthol and tobacco vs. melon, cucumber, and mint. The most popular flavorings are menthol, fruity flavors, tobacco flavors, and so on.
You now know all the basic components of e-juices. Let’s take a quick look at how they can prove to be hazardous to your body.
Vaping Risks: Allergies from PG and VG
FDA has deemed both PG and VG “generally recognized as safe” to use as food additives. However, they can trigger several allergies.
Yes, they derived PG through a chemical process. However, it has higher capabilities of triggering allergic reactions. These allergies can be as minor as a tingling sensation in the throat to serious irritations on different parts of the body. It can degrade into formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Some researchers claim that it happens when you vape PG at very high temperatures. The most common complaint, however, against PG is a dry mouth.
On the other hand, they consider VG to be less potent for triggering allergies. However, some vapers complain phlegm build up in their throat after using high VG e-liquids.
Your e-liquid may contain both or either one of PG and VG. Therefore, consider switching to a different one, ideally with a low PG ratio. This is if you are having allergic reactions from the using a particular e-liquid.
Nicotine is highly addictive and can be poisonous if ingested in concentrated form, especially by children or pets. It is one of the most addictive drugs under the sun. Some experts rate it more addictive than cocaine and heroin. It’s habit forming and mind-altering capabilities make it very dangerous. But the good thing about the e-liquids is that they allow you to pick a nicotine strength of your choice. This means, if you’re extremely addicted to it, you can gradually cut down on nicotine intake. Eventually, you can vape with zero nicotine, without going through the intense withdrawal symptoms.
Flavorings and Harmful Chemicals
While we know that dangers associated with nicotine, and PG and VG, we don’t know exact details of each and every flavoring used by different vendors. It’s because there is such a huge variety of ingredients used by countless manufacturers. In fact, flavorings can be the biggest danger, especially in low-quality e-liquids.
For example, a Harvard research recently found diacetyl is in 39 out of 51 samples of e-liquids. This is including many menthol flavors. They do not typically associate this with the creamy butter flavor of diacetyl.
Two other chemical cousins of diacetyl, pentanedione and acetoin were also found in some of the flavorings. Both of these chemicals can be toxic when inhaled. Diacetyl, as well as its two cousins, can result in a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans. It can result in popcorn lungs and can even lead to death.
Vaping Risks: Battery Explosions
Another danger of vaping that is directly related to the e-cig itself is the battery explosions. Actually, this has nothing to do with the main device but the culprit. In this case, is the 18650 battery cells which can explode under certain conditions.
However, the event is not very common especially when you take the necessary precautions. You might have seen on TV or read in the paper that people have suffered property damage as well as injuries. This is due to battery explosions. But it only happens when you mistreat the batteries.
The probability of a battery explosion is one in a million. This is far less than what we have seen happen with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Note tablets in the recent past. The chances can be further minimized by taking a few basic precautions. First, only use the recommended compatible charger. Second, store the batteries safely. Third, don’t use the damaged/low-quality batteries.
The Unknown Dangers
One of the biggest fears known to humans is the fear of unknown.
There are several unknown dangers of vaping. This is because they make most of the electronic cigarettes and e-liquids outside the United States. We are unsure of how strict their manufacturing policies are. We also don’t know how clean their manufacturing facilities are.
Also, many manufacturers don’t clearly list all the ingredients used in their e-liquids. Low-quality materials used both in e-liquids and e-cigarettes can result in extra risks. For instance, if a manufacturer is using cheap quality plastic in their electronic cigarette, it can melt at high temperatures. Furthermore, it can release toxic chemicals into the vapor, which the user will inhale.
As of January 2014, there were more than 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-liquids available on the market. This is according to American Lung Association. These numbers have grown significantly over the last two years. While this makes vaping a lot more appealing, it also makes it hard for authorities to regulate them. We need more research to find the potential hazards related to the inhalation of these flavors. There is another thing that we haven’t figured out yet. That is how the different flavoring agents can influence the addictive capabilities of nicotine.
We don’t have any data that shows their long-term impact on the users (for 20 or 30 years of use). This is since the electronic cigarettes have been on the market for around eight years.
Vaping Risks: Conclusion
Many experts still believe in the potential of e-cigs. Dr. Michael Siegel is a professor of Public Health at Boston University. He wrote on his blog, “Rather than scaring people about the dangers of vaping and alarming them to the ‘fact’ that vaping raises their cancer risk above that of smoking, We should instead be regulating the voltage and temperature conditions of electronic cigarettes. This way, the problem of formaldehyde contamination is completely avoided.”
Siegel believes electronic cigarettes are by no means more toxic or harmful than tobacco. That is even if electronic cigarettes have certain health risks. He claimed that anything that can get people away from smoking is taking them in the right direction. “Eventually, the goal is to get people off vaping and to quit completely. But, people have to start somewhere” he added.
We cannot deny the potential dangers of vaping can’t. As the time passes and we will have more data about effects of long-term vaping. We will be able to debunk the myths about vaping and its potential dangers.
To sum it up, if you care about your health, the only thing you should be inhaling is clean, fresh air.