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Vaping: What is it, and why the concern?


By Adam Hill

Vaping is receiving mixed reviews these days. Some people adore the habit, sharing it's a great way to relax and enjoy as a hobby, helping them socialize and entertain, while others have a much more negative view on it. The health dangers are the number one concern the other side has with vaping, and seeing this hobby grow in popularity, especially among young people, only escalates their worry.

Myths and stereotypes are common with each new trend, and vaping is not immune. First they were known for being a safe alternative to cigarettes. But now, as more research and information comes to light, fact is replacing myth and the concerns are on the rise. This doesn't mean that vaping is declining though. To the contrary, use has more than doubled among young people since 2017. Vaping activity and the accompanying equipment have gained a notoriety that seems to thrive on its own, despite losing the "safe alternative" status.

Spurring on the interest in vaping devices are the companies that develop the equipment, always on an endless pursuit of finding the best vape mods. And today's vapers appreciate all the new functions being designed for them, sometimes happy to sacrifice comfort features in favor of having your best vape mod out that maximizes what they are able to take in. However, despite the improvement of vaping mods and satisfaction of its users, the question of its lasting viability depends on how the science of it comes to light and how the policy makers view its risk and impact.

Vaping: What is it and why the concern?

Vaping is the process of delivering nicotine via an electronic delivery system (ENDS). There is little doubt as to its rising popularity, not just in the states but globally. But the concerns surrounding it are growing louder, and mainly focused on these two issues: (1) teen addiction (hundreds of adolescents try vape mods each day and don't seem to have plans to stop), and (2) chemical intoxication (flavorings are seen not only as addictive but the concern is that they also contain toxins and carcinogens).

Debunking a main myth: vaping can help people stop smoking

One of the most deeply rooted myths is that vaping can help people give up smoking. The theory is that a person can slowly get rid of nicotine addiction by gradually dropping down the nicotine level in the e-liquid levels used in vaping.

A 2018 research study shows that the use of even the best box mod vaping device will only help 10% of people stop smoking. What tends to happen instead is that people who start vaping just acquire another harmful habit. The smoking addiction gets replaced by another one – and unfortunately it's one that isn't any less powerful or addictive.

Some scientists claim that, while vaping alone won't help a person stop smoking, if it is used in conjunction with other means of trying to break the smoking habit, it could be seen as a step in the process toward success. Of course, not all scientists share this opinion, arguing still that the other health dangers of vaping still outweigh the potential benefit.

The chemical make-up: a tinderbox waiting to explode?

While the benefit of using vape mods for quitting smoking remains in question, scientists generally agree that the adverse effects that vaping poses are undeniable, particularly the danger of the chemical constitution of the flavorings for the vape mods.

According to the studies published in the American Heart Association journal, flavorings used in vape juice can damage and impair the functioning of the heart and the blood vessels. Another study shows that the usage of high temperatures (which are usually used by the best vape mod for clouds) can convert an e-liquid into a carcinogenic substance.

Additionally there is a study from PubMed Central that finds the e-juice used in vaping can contain up to six different Pyrazine additives. These flavor additives are used to encourage more smoking by boosting the vaping appeal. But their toxic properties are harmful, particularly for the human reproductive system. This risk alone puts teens health and futures at great risk.

Unhealthy heavy metals have also been found in e-liquids. Among them, scientists found chromium, tin, aluminum, lead, nickel, cadmium, and more. The accumulation of these metals can increase the chance for developing cancer, particularly lung, mouth, and sinonasal cancers. Still more toxic elements are found in vaping, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde (also known as ethanal), both found to be harmful to humans.

The debate gets hotter when introducing the fact that other substances beyond e-liquids can be vaped. Many experts panic when considering how the use of marijuana will play out with vaping (in the form of an herb, oil, or as a wax concentrate) because of its known addictive properties. While there is some debate about the positives of dry herb evaporation, there is still much in the field of vaping and marijuana that needs further study.

Lungs suffer first: the most severe effects

The most well-known negative health effect of vaping is centered on the issue of inflammation. Smoking creates inflammation of the lung tissues (endothelium), resulting in the increased risk of several pulmonary diseases.

The problem with testing e-liquid is that it doesn't test out as "harmful" to the system until the liquid is vaporized. Once the liquid becomes vapor, then the damaging process begins, first by inhibiting the normal functioning of the body to receive oxygen, then prohibiting it from being able to get rid of harmful particles, leading eventually to the more damaging inflammation of and often irreversible destruction to the lung tissues.

One other aspect to keep in mind is that the chemicals used in e-liquids that keep a person nicotine-dependent also serve to inhibit the body's ability to clear out bacteria, which increases the risk of lung infections. One medical study confirms a link between vaping sessions and the development of lipoid pneumonia. While many such cases are characterized with only minor symptoms, others with repeated patterns of exposure can develop severe pneumonia and can be fatal.

Last, but not least, is the unfortunate discovery of a number of studies that shows a growing interdependence between the use of vape mods as a constant hobby and lung diseases (such as pleural effusion, bronchiectasis, hypersensitivity pneumonia, eosinophilic pneumonia, and others).

Vaping and nicotine: a hazardous game

Statistics show that most of the vapers that use e-liquid, versus wax, oil, or herbs, use the e-liquid that contains nicotine, and the levels of nicotine consumed by vapers are even higher than the rates of nicotine consumed by smokers.

This reality, along with the information we have on the other toxic chemicals used during vaping, as well as the facts on how much damage is done to the body because of prolonged vaping -- damage to the respiratory system, the immune system, down to the negative affects on cognition, emotions and mental activity -- all of this begins to wash away any "safe" image one might have about vaping.

With of all this information coming to light, it's easy to see how vaping is a hazardous game for those who might be thinking of trying it. And why experts continue to be concerned and scientists continue their studies to find ways to keep overturning the hidden rocks of unhealthy habits in an effort to keep us safe.

health risks, Vaping


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